DNA Analysis Helps Identify Body Found in Rio Grande
WESLACO – Pathologists are going through extensive lengths to track down family members of deceased immigrants found in South Texas.
Authorities identified the remains of Jose Luis Martinez Chavarria through DNA analysis last month. His body was found in the Rio Grande nearly a year ago.
Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson J.P. Rodriguez said Martinez, a Mexican national, has relatives in Edinburg.
The river’s current is deceivingly powerful. Rodriguez said it’s one of the reasons why law enforcement along the border try to deter more people from crossing.
The Rio Grande Valley has seen some of the highest numbers of people trying to cross the border illegally. Authorities said they’ve recovered bodies from ranch lands and the river. Many of the bodies remain unidentified.
“Once the autopsy is done, our investigators work together with the consulates to try and reconnect them with their family members,” Rodriguez said. “During the autopsy, the forensic pathologist submitted DNA to CODIS for analysis which is combined DNA in the system. That database is maintained by the FBI… It took a while but we got a hit on a profile.”
Hidalgo County forensic pathologist Dr. Norma Jean Farley said running DNA through the CODIS program comes at no cost for them.