Mexico Horror: Gunmen Dump 35 Bodies on Avenue
Suspected drug traffickers dumped 35 bodies at rush hour beneath a busy overpass in the heart of a major Gulf coast city as gunmen pointed weapons at frightened drivers. Mexican authorities said Wednesday they are examining surveillance video for clues to who committed the crime.
Horrified motorists grabbed cell phones and sent Twitter messages warning others to avoid the area near the biggest shopping mall in Boca del Rio, part of the metropolitan area of Veracruz city.
The gruesome gesture marked a sharp escalation in cartel violence in Veracruz state, which sits on an important route for drugs and Central American migrants heading north.
The Zetas drug cartel has been battling other gangs for control of the state.
Prosecutors said it's too soon to draw conclusions from the surveillance video.
"We're not going to confirm or deny anything," Veracruz state Attorney General Reynaldo Escobar Perez told the Televisa network Wednesday. "We're looking at it in different ways, we're seeing different numbers, that's why we don't want to get ahead of ourselves."
General view of the scene where 35 bodies... View Full Size
General view of the scene where 35 bodies were found at the Adolfo Ruiz Cortinez Blvd in Boca del Rio municipality, Veracruz State, Mexico, Sept. 20, 2011.
Escobar said the bodies were left piled in two trucks and on the ground under the overpass near the statue of the Voladores de Papantla, ritual dancers from Veracruz state. He said some of the victims had their heads covered with black plastic bags and showed signs of torture.
Among the bodies was a local police officer who had gone missing two weeks ago, Escobar told W Radio in Mexico City. He told MVS Radio many of the victims were strangled, some bled to death and one person had been shot dead.
Escobar did not return phone calls from The Associated Press.
Police have identified 32 of the victims so far and maintain they all had criminal records for acts such as murder, drug dealing, kidnapping and extortion and were linked to organized crime, said Magda Zayas, spokeswoman for the Veracruz Attorney General's Office.
State Gov. Javier Duarte said on his Twitter account "the killing of 35 people is deplorable, but it's even more deplorable the same victims chose to extort, kidnap and kill."
Duarte said an intelligence database shows the 35 victims had a criminal background.
Motorists posted Twitter warnings said the masked gunmen were in military uniforms and were blocking Manuel Avila Camacho Boulevard.
"They don't seem to be soldiers or police," one tweet read. Another said, "Don't go through that area, there is danger."
Veracruz is currently hosting a conference of Mexico's top state and federal prosecutors and judiciary officials.
Local media said that 12 of the victims were women and that some of the dead men had been among prisoners who escaped from three Veracruz prisons on Monday, but Escobar denied the escaped convicts were among the dead.
At least 32 inmates got away from the three Veracruz prisons. Police recaptured 14 of them.
Drug violence has claimed more than 35,000 lives across Mexico since 2006, according to government figures. Others put the number at more than 40,000.