At first, eight graves were found with 14 bodies, which appear to have been buried for two years on Hugo Ernesto Osorio Chávez’s property, BBC reports. Officials suspect that they may find up to 40 bodies in the pits, largely of missing women and girls. The mass graves were unearthed after Osorio Chávez was arrested and charged for killing a 57-year-old woman and her 26-year-old daughter then later admitted to killing both women. A forensics team then began searching his house in San Salvador, which they believe is evidence of a secret murder ring that began over 10 years ago.
At least 10 people have also been apprehended for their involvement in the murder ring with the suspects spanning former cops, ex-soldiers, and human smugglers. “He told us that he found victims on social media and sought them out, luring them with the American dream,” Mauricio Arriaza Chicas, director of El Salvador’s national civil police, told the Associated Press. “This psychopath has been detained and I believe that 99 percent of the people who assisted him have been detained.”
Additionally, Osorio Chávez had been previously investigated for sex crimes and was fired from the police force in 2005.
People who suspect their missing family member was buried in the graves assembled outside the home on Thursday. According to prosecutors, the victims could be girls as young as nine, seven, and two years old.