“If we’ll not find her at the end of the day she will be lost forever, I’m sorry for her mum”, says the forensic anthropologist and criminologist Israel Ticas, while looking at the impenetrable vegetation around him. He is digging into the woods in a remote area controlled by the street gang “La Mara Salvatrucha” to find Reina Isabella Sanchez, a 20 years old girl who disappeared in 2013, she was the girlfriend of a police man. Reina will never be found.
After 12 years of bloody civil war, El Salvador is now experiencing a kind of subtle conflict. Street gangs such as La Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) or Barrio18 rule over the population by fear: "Ver, oir y callar" (look, listen and shut up) is a motto you see on the walls all around the country, where the gangs dictate people's life.
With an average murder rate of a war zone Salvadorians are not just being killed but are also vanishing, according to La Fiscalia General De La Republica (FGR) from 2008 till 2016 there have been 11500 disappearances.
Israel Ticas is the only criminologist of one of the world’s most violent countries, his job is looking for the disappeared ones, he wanders in a world shaped by people who kill and others that get killed, finally speaking for those who are lost.
“The main thing that keeps me doing this is the pain of the families who have lost their loved ones, they are like zombies, their heart is gone with their sons” said Mr Ticas, Also Known as “the engineer”.
The project tries to evoke the painful universe of a man questioning the relationship between his place and the cycle of death around him.