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Questions Surround 49 Bodies Found on U.S.-Mexico Border

Posted: May 14, 2012

On Sunday, Mexican police found 49 mutilated bodies, believed by some to be migrants, on a road that connects the industrial city of Monterrey with the United States border.

The corpses had their hands, heads, and feet chopped off, making them difficult to identify. An investigator who spoke to Milenio newspaper on Monday speculated the victims could be undocumented immigrants from Central America on their way to the United States.

“Because of the large quantity of corpses, our first hypothesis is that it could be the bodies of illegal immigrants traveling on a bus; there could have been a problem between a drug cartel and a coyote over fees,” an unnamed source told Milenio. For security reasons, he did not provide his name.

Drug cartels have increasingly used the public display of corpses as warning to other cartels or criminal organizations. This month alone dozens of dead bodies were found in Nuevo Laredo and Guadalajara, but the 49 found this weekend were more than in both other cities combined.

Police came across a black “Z” spray painted near a road sign where the bodies were found Sunday. The symbol has led authorities to believe Los Zetas were behind the massacre. The drug gang, which is also reportedly involved in human trafficking, was linked to the killing of 72 Central and South American migrants in 2010. The bodies were found near the town of San Fernando, in Tamaulipas state.

According to an Ecuadorean migrant who survived the San Fernando massacre — pretending to be dead after he was shot in the neck — migrants were killed because they could not pay ‘liberation’ fees, and refused to work for the cartel. The bodies were hidden in a ranch and were found by police after an armed confrontation with human traffickers at the site.

In the latest incident, murderers made no effort to hide the victims’ bodies. Instead, they dumped the bodies in plain view near a road that connects Monterrey to the border city of Reynosa.

“They (the cartels) want us all to feel like possible victims,” political analyst Lorenzo Meyer said on the radio show, MVS Noticias.

To Meyer this incident is part of a broader effort by cartels to show control over territories in Mexico, and demonstrate their force. With presidential elections coming up July 1, Meyer believes cartels also are trying to show force in order to intimidate Mexico’s next presidential administration.

“What they want is for society not to get in their way, they want it to not support campaigns aimed at eradicating organized crime,” Meyer said.

According to another theory about the recent massacre, the victims could have been members of the Gulf Cartel or the Sinaloa Federation, organizations fighting Los Zetas over control of drug routes in northeast Mexico. In Guadalajara and the state of Jalisco, allies of the Sinaloa Federation are fighting the Zetas for control of drug plazas and trafficking routes.

Last week, police found the decapitated bodies of 18 people in two vans parked on the outskirts of Guadalajara.

This story originally appeared on Univision News.

(Main photo: screencapture/AlJazeera.com)

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