MEXICO CITY -- The remains of at least 14 bodies were found Thursday in an abandoned vehicle in a northern Mexican state that has been the scene of a gruesome war between drug-trafficking gangs, according to news reports.
Early reports said authorities found the abandoned cargo truck in Ciudad Mante, about 250 miles south of the U.S. border in northeastern Tamaulipas state. The Spanish news agency Efe, quoting an unnamed official, said the dead included 11 men and three women. The mutilated bodies were accompanied by a banner taking credit for the killings, but the official did not disclose its contents.
Tamaulipas, which is next to Texas, has been rocked for months by a feud between the Gulf cartel and an ultra-violent gang of former allies known as the Zetas. The struggle has grown more bloody as a trafficking group led by Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman, from the northwestern state of Sinaloa, has apparently joined the fight against the Zetas as part of a wider struggle.
On May 4, the turf war left 23 people dead in the border city of Nuevo Laredo. Nine of the dead were hanged from a bridge; 14 others were mutilated and dumped.
Violent struggles for control of smuggling routes leading to the United States have helped fuel frightening levels of violence in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon took office in late 2006, announcing that he would crack down on drug cartels.
The death toll now exceeds 50,000, and residents in the worst-hit zones, including much of Tamaulipas, live as if under occupation.