REPORTING FROM MEXICO CITY -- Scarcely 48 hours after the Mexican government announced (link in Spanish) a major security operation in Veracruz, authorities discovered 36 bodies, bringing the death toll to more than 80 in the last two weeks of an escalating drug war in the coastal state.
Mexican marines on a house-to-house search late Thursday discovered 32 bodies dumped in three residences in the Boca del Rio section of Veracruz city. State police at the same time found an additional four corpses.
Early Friday, the navy announced the capture (link in Spanish) of 20 suspects from the two rival gangs fighting for control of Veracruz. Eight belong to the offshoot of the Sinaloa cartel that has been battling to oust the vicious Zeta gang that long dominated Veracruz, navy officials said in a news conference. The group calls itself the Mata Zetas, or Zeta-killers, and has sought to portray itself as a paramilitary death squad aimed at eliminating Zetas who terrorize the local population.
On Sept. 20, 35 bodies were dumped on a busy central Veracruz roadway. Days later, during a convention of the nation's top prosecutors in Veracruz, 14 more bodies turned up in several locations. The latest discovery adds to that toll.
The government has also announced a concerted security operation in the southwestern state of Guerrero, where Acapulco is located and where violence is also on the rise. Scores of schools have been closed for weeks because teachers say drug gangs have threatened to kill them or hurt students if they don't pay protection money.
-- Tracy Wilkinson
Photo: Mexican marines search homes in Veracruz on Thursday. Credit: El Universal