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49 headless bodies dumped on north Mexico highway

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Published : 2012-05-14 09:14
Updated : 2012-05-14 09:19

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

Local and federal authorities discovered the bodies before dawn 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 at a news conference that the 43 men and six women would be hard to identify because of the lack of heads, hands and feet. The bodies were being taken to a Monterrey auditorium 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 (175 kilometers) west-southwest of McAllen, Texas, and 75 miles (125 kilometers) southwest of the Roma, Texas, border crossing, state Attorney General Adrian de la Garza said.

De la Garza said he did not rule out the possibility that the victims were U.S.-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 organized 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 U.S. 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 downtown Nuevo Laredo, 23 people were found hanged or decapitated in the same border city and 18 dismembered bodied 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, Benitez said. But the Zetas are heavily armed while Sinaloa has 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.

A year ago this month, more than two dozen people _ most of them Zetas _ were killed when they tried to infiltrate the Sinaloa's territory in the Pacific Coast state of Nayarit.

But their war started in earnest last fall in Veracruz, a strategic smuggling state with a giant gulf port.

A drug gang allied with Sinaloa  left 35 bodies at a freeway overpass in the city of Veracruz in September, and police found 32 other bodies, apparently killed by the same gang, a few days after that. The goal apparently was to take over territory that had been dominated by the Zetas.

Twenty-six bodies were found in November in Guadalajara, another territory being disputed by the Zetas and Sinaloa.

Drug violence has killed more than 47,500 people since Calderon launched a stepped-up offensive when he took office in December 2006.

Mexico is now in the midst of presidential race to replace Calderon, who by law can't run for re-election. Drug violence seems to be escalating, but none of the major candidates, Enrique Pena Nieto, Josefina Vazquez Mota or Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has referred to the body dumpings directly. All three say they will stop the violence and make Mexico a more secure place, but offer few details on how their plans would differ from Calderon's.

Benitez said the wave of violence has nothing to do with the presidential election.

“It has the dynamic of a war between cartels,” he said. (AP)

 

<한글 기사>

고속도로서 가방에 담긴 시신 49구 발견

멕시코 북부 공업도시 몬테레이 부근 고속도로 상에서 마약갱단 사이의 보복 공격의 희생자로 보이는 시신 49구가 발견됐다고 현지 언론이 13일 보도했다.

일간지 엑셀시오르는 웹사이트를 통해 참혹하게 절단되거나 훼손된 시신들이 가 방에 넣어져 고속도로에 버려진 것이 이날 일찍 발견됐으며 즉각 지역과 주(州) 관계자와 군이 대거 현장에 출동해 배치됐다고 전했다.

앞서 지난 9일에도 서부에 위치한 제2도시 과달라하라 근처에서 참수되거나 훼손된 시신 18구가 발견되는 등 최근 들어 비슷한 사건이 잇따르고 있다.

몬테레이가 주도인 누에보 레언주 당국은 이번 참사에 관해 즉각적으로 확인하지 않고 있다.

경찰은 최근 여러 지역에서 발생하는 대량살인 사건의 배후로 멕시코 양대 마약 조직 '제타스'와 마약왕 호아킨 '엘 차포' 구즈만의 '시날로아' 갱단을 지목하고 있다.

 

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