Gangs blamed for 49 headless bodies dumped on highway

 

Forty-nine bodies with their heads, hands and feet hacked off were found dumped on a northern Mexico highway in what appeared to be the latest carnage in the escalating war between Mexico's two dominant drug cartels.

Authorities discovered the bodies before dawn yesterday lying in a pool of blood at the entrance to the desert town of San Juan, on a highway leading from the metropolis of Monterrey to the border city of Reynosa. A white stone arch welcoming visitors was spray-painted with black letters: "100% Zeta".

Nuevo Leon state security spokesman Jorge Domene said the 43 men and six women would be hard to identify. The bodies were being taken to Monterrey for DNA tests.

The victims could have been killed as long as two days ago at another location, then transported to San Juan, a town in Cadereyta municipality about 105 miles west-south-west of McAllen, Texas, and 75 miles south west of the Roma, Texas, border crossing, state attorney general Adrian de la Garza said.

He said he did not rule out the possibility that the victims were US-bound migrants, but it seemed more likely that the killings were the latest salvo in a gruesome game of tit-for-tat in fighting among brutal drug gangs.

"This is the most definitive of all the cartel wars," said Raul Benitez Manaut, a security expert at Mexico's National Autonomous University.

Mass body dumpings have increased around Mexico the last six months as the fearsome Zetas gang goes head to head with the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, led by fugitive drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

Under President Felipe Calderon's nearly six-year assault on organised crime, the two cartels have become the largest in the country and are battling over strategic transport routes and territory, including along the northern border with the US and in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz.

In less than a month, the mutilated bodies of 14 men were left in a van in central Nuevo Laredo, 23 people were found hanged or decapitated in the same border city and 18 dismembered bodies were left near Mexico's second-largest city, Guadalajara.

Nuevo Laredo, like Monterrey, is considered Zeta territory, while Guadalajara has long been controlled by gangs loyal to Sinaloa.

The Zetas are a transient gang without real territory or a secure stream of income, unlike Sinaloa with its lucrative cocaine trade and control of smuggling routes and territory, Mr Benitez said. But the Zetas were heavily armed while Sinaloa had a weak enforcement arm, he said.

The Zetas, founded by deserters from Mexico's elite special forces, started out as assassins for the Gulf Cartel before those two gangs had a bloody split in early 2010.

The government's success in killing or arresting cartel leaders has fractured some of the big gangs into weaker, quarreling bands that in many cases are lining up with either the Zetas or Sinaloa. At least one of the two cartels is present in nearly all of Mexico's 32 states.

AP

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
peopleGerman paper published pictures of 18-month-old daughter
Arts and Entertainment
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush
musicKate Bush set to re-enter album charts after first conerts in 35 years
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams' life story will be told in a biography written by a New York Times reporter
arts + ents
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
Voices
voices
Sport
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
News
peopleJustin Bieber accuses paparazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Merger and Acquisition Project Manager

£500 - £550 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently...

Technical Manager – Heat Pumps

£40000 Per Annum dependent on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: They ...

Test Job

TBC: Test Recruiter for iJobs: Job London (Greater)

Senior Developer - HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, VBA, SQL

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: We are working with one o...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis