Friends and relatives of people missing left crosses in their memory in November of 2010 at a property in Ejido Ojo de Agua, where Santiago Meza Lopez confessed to having dissolved murder victims.
Meza told Siedo that he first took orders from Efraín Pérez (alias as "El Efra" and afterward, starting in 2002, from Teodoro García Simental ("El Teo", both leaders of different cells of drug enforcers for the Arellano Félix cartel.
He met Pérez in 1992, when he and his brothers went to work for him as bricklayers at a paint workshop in colonia Reforma. He was 29 years old and had just arrived from his native city of Guamúchil, in Sinaloa state.
Pérez invited him to be the caretaker at Rancho El Contento, where he kept race horses. Then Pérez took Meza to a warehouse, located in the east-side neighborhood of Jardines de La Mesa, where he stored stolen cars, Meza said. Pérez paid him $200 a week to guard the warehouse.
About five years after beginning to work for Pérez, Meza described what happened one day at the warehouse.
Pérez told Meza that he and two associates wanted to show him an experiment. Pérez filled a bucket half-way with water and added 4 kilos of granulated lye (about 8.8 pounds).
"He asked me to stir the lye so it would dissolve," Meza said. "When it started to smoke I threw in a leg of beef and we let it sit for about two hours."
"Afterward, the meat disintegrated when we moved it," Meza said.
About six months later, Pérez told him that they were going to experiment with human flesh, Meza said. What's more, he was going to send him four "plebes" so he could show them how to do it.
Meza only knew them by their nicknames "El Negrillo," "El Chico," "El Cuic" and "El Don King."
That night Meza said that he handled his first body. The next morning, he tossed left-over fragments in the Alamar arroyo, next to the Tijuana River channel.
"El pozolero" had dissolved his first human being. The year was 1996. And he was just getting started.
In all, Meza said that he "pozoleó" or "cooked," nine bodies at the warehouse.
It closed in 1998, after a police investigation reported that stolen vehicles were taken there.
Pérez moved him to another eastside warehouse, located in the Villa Floresta neighborhood. That's "where the cooking technique was better," Meza said.
They installed steel drums connected to a storm drain, with a valve they could open to dispose of the human remains not dissolved in the lye.
He operated there for three years, dissolving "about 40 human bodies or more" brought to him by various people he did not know, he said.
Santiago Meza declared to Mexican authorities how he came to dissolve dozens of murder victims on orders of drug traffickers.
They shut the warehouse "because there were rumors that the law was coming down."
From there, Meza moved to a rural property located on a hill in a neighborhood called Valle Bonito, also on the city's east side.
By then he was no longer taking orders from Pérez, who had been arrested. He was dealing directly with García Simental.
"The little ranch they gave us did not have a sewer," Meza said. "We made holes about 3 to 4 feet deep by about 3 feet wide and that's where we used to
dump the left-overs, that's to say, what was left of the human bodies that we put in to the lye to dissolve them."
Investigators from the state as well as from Siedo excavated parts of that property last spring. On April 8, Guerrero, the state's prosecutor for missing people, said that they had found human remains. They were sent to Mexico City for DNA testing to compare them with samples from family members of missing people, looking for a match.
The process takes a long time given the damage the samples showed from the lye. No results are known yet, said Guerrero.
Meza said that he received more than 22 bodies at that site. At times more than eight would arrive at once in a van, he added.
He said they abandoned that property after the Mexican army arrived when no one was there.
By then he had four new assistants whom he knew only by their nicknames: "El Yiyo," "El Cenizo," "El Satur" and "El Mario."
Two of his previous aides were fired because they had become addicted to crystal meth, another died in an accident and the fourth got cancer.
From the Valle Bonito neighborhood they moved to a place Meza identified as "La Gallera," located in the Maclovio Rojas neighborhood, also on the east side. That's where investigators are currently exploring.
At La Gallera, "the people who brought the dead bodies always had patrol-type escort," he said.
He stayed there for a year and a half.
"They brought me there more than 70 dead human beings to put them in lye and water," he said.
One day the military arrived but found nothing. Meza was told to move his operation once more, at a location that would turn out to be his last.
Tomorrow: Dissolved bodies deliver a message.