SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — The first phase of construction for a “forensic cemetery” for unidentified persons and remains began Wednesday in Tijuana, with completion of the project expected in seven months.
The cemetery will initially have capacity for 2,000 bodies, according to César González Vaca, director of Baja California Forensic Services.
He said that once the memorial park is finished, unclaimed bodies will be sent here and placed in large “chambers and niches” and not in common graves.
“Bodies will be brought here already embalmed, they’ll be registered using a genetic profile, (and) tissue samples will be placed in a database operated in conjunction with the attorney general’s office should they be needed for future investigations,” González Vaca said.
The cemetery had been in the planning stages for seven years and was largely supported by several private groups that search and locate missing persons throughout the state.
“This gives us a lot of satisfaction since we’ve been fighting for this for many years,” said José Fernando Ortigoza, president of the Missing Persons Movement of Baja California.
The city of Tijuana is providing roughly 40 acres of land for the site.
It will be built out in four phases and will eventually have space for 12,000 bodies, according to the city.
The cost for the entire project is 60 million pesos or about $3.5 million.
González Vaca says it’s not practical to unearth 13,000 remains now in common graves, and that the bodies brought to the new cemetery will be those that come into medical examiners’ offices and go unidentified in the future.
He said it’s likely to be about 1,200 to 1,400 bodies per year.