EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Volunteers led by mothers looking for their adult missing children have found multiple bodies and skeletal remains in Sonora, state authorities confirmed on Wednesday.

The volunteers on Tuesday reported finding the unidentified buried bodies of five males and three females during a three-day dig in the backyard of a home in Cajeme. The town is a suburb of the regional agricultural center of Ciudad Obregon, in the southeastern part of the state.

“We worked all day but did not find any bodies today. We have found eight,” Nora Lira, leader of the group known as Rastreadoras (Seekers) de Ciudad Obregon, said Tuesday in a Facebook Live broadcast. “The bodies were wrapped in blankets and (the medical examiner) took them. It was three women and five men.”

Lira broadcast video of volunteers digging a trench next to a house. She said the group had received information that up to 15 bodies were interred in the backyard.  

“We will continue our work because we know there are mothers waiting for their angels. We would like to give them back (their children) alive, but if not, we will return them as angels,” Lira said. “We are not leaving until we are (convinced) that no one is left here.”

She said Cajeme residents were supportive of the group; they brought water and food during the dig.  

The Sonora State Search Commission this week said it had been invited by Rastreadoras to monitor the dig but came up with a different body count. A spokesman for the Sonora Attorney General’s Office on Wednesday told Border Report it appears the remains were those of seven adults, not eight.

The medical examiner will proceed to establish the cause of death, state officials said.

Like neighboring Sinaloa and Chihuahua, Sonora is coping with violence from organized criminal groups and the rural suburbs of Ciudad Obregon are being targeted, according to Mexican news reports and local authorities.

In February, armed intruders abducted 11 people from a family gathering in the farming community of Pascual Ayon. The Mexican army deployed dozens of soldiers and 14 armored cars to the region weeks later, authorities in Cajeme said in a statement..

A column of Mexican army armored cars arrives in Cajeme, Sonora, in April to discourage organized criminal activity. (photo courtesy Municipality of Cajeme, Sonora)

In June, three brothers who worked as municipal police officers in Cajeme were taken at gunpoint during a family gathering at their parents’ home. Their bodies, wrapped in blankets, were found a week later by the side of a road. Authorities blamed the killings on a “criminal group, already identified, that operates in the region,” but have announced no arrests.