MONTERREY, MEXICO: Mexican police said they had found the decapitated bodies of 49 people, probably killed in drug violence, whose hands had been cut off to prevent fingerprint identification.
The mutilated corpses were discovered in black plastic bags close to the northern city of Monterrey, 180 kilometers (110 miles) from the US border.
Jorge Domene, a public safety spokesman for the state of Nuevo Leon, said the victims comprised 43 men and six women and the bodies had been split into their four limbs and stacked up at the roadside.
The find came just days after police discovered the dismembered, decapitated bodies of 18 people in two abandoned vehicles in western Mexico, in what appeared to be a revenge killing involving powerful drug gangs.
Just a few days earlier, there were 23 killings in the city of Nuevo Laredo, in Tamaulipas state which borders the United States, comprising nine people found hanging from a bridge and 14 others that had been decapitated.
Adrian de la Garza, a prosecutor in Nuevo Leon state, said some of the bodies in Sunday’s shocking find were naked and the hands had been cut off, though forensic experts were collecting DNA samples.
A note was found at the scene in which the Zetas — a gang set up by ex-commandos that deserted in the 1990s — claimed responsibility.
Initial investigations indicate that the victims were killed up to 48 hours ago in a different location, having likely been transported by truck to where they were found.
Suspected drug gang violence has risen across the country this month, with scores of deaths attributed to massacres and clashes with security forces.
Authorities have blamed much of the deadly violence on battles between the Zetas and groups allied to the Sinaloa Federation of Mexico’s most wanted drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
The state of Veracruz has become a battleground between the Zetas and Guzman’s Sinaloa grouping, and journalists have also been targeted.
Last week, the dismembered bodies of three photographers and a news company employee were found, wrapped in plastic bags, in a canal in the metropolitan area of Veracruz, a port city on the Gulf of Mexico.
Several days earlier the Veracruz state correspondent of the national weekly news magazine Proceso was found strangled in her home.
More than 50,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderon launched an all-out war against the nation’s drug gangs on taking office in December 2006. –AFP