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About 53 bags of human remains were discovered in Mexico following an excavation that started after locals reported seeing a dog walking with a human hand in its mouth.

After seeing a dog running around town with a severed hand in its mouth in Irapuato, Guanajuato, Mexico in late Oct, desperate people rushed to the burial site in the town and started looking for signs of their lost loved ones. The search started in late Oct during a festival called El Cervantino in Guanajuato and has led to the discovery of 53 bags of human remains until now, Fox News reported.

“While people from all over the world were celebrating the Cervantino festival, we were digging up bodies, and at the same time I thought it was useless because they were burying more people elsewhere,” Bibiana Mendoza, one of the searchers, said.

Mendoza, 32, said that she came to Irapuato in search of her missing brother after hearing reports of the dog carrying around a human hand. Mendoza is an organizer of a group searching for an untold number of people missing amid widespread cartel violence. She is now working with forensic experts to identify the human remains that were found in the 53 bags, New York Post reported.

Guanajuato is considered to be Mexico’s most violent state. Approximately around 2,400 people were murdered this year through Sept while 3,000 more have vanished. A turf war between the Jalisco New Generation and Santa Rosa de Lima cartels is at the heart of the violence in the state of Guanajuato. The Jalisco cartel is reportedly led by Nemesio Oseguera aka “El Mencho,” a wanted international fugitive.

Cartel gunmen have killed numerous people in restaurants and bars in recent months. In October, a massacre in Irapuato left 12 dead. Weeks after the massacre in Irapuato, Santa Rosa de Lima gunmen mowed down nine people including restaurant workers in a bar in Apaseo el Alto within the state.

Recently, on Sunday, Nov. 20, several members of a cartel were killed after they attacked a police station in Celaya, a city roughly 40 miles east of Irapuato, where the human remains were found.

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