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49 Bodies Found Along Mexican Highway

Gruesome cartel-related mass murders have become routine in drug war-torn Mexico.


Police and army personnel investigating the
scene. Photo via

By Valerie Tejeda


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In the Mexican state of Nuevo León on Sunday, authorities discovered 49 decapitated bodies alongside a highway to the US border that is a major drug-trafficking route; the bodies were found less than a week after army presence was expanded in efforts to curb drug-related crime in the region. Although it's possible the victims were US-bound migrant workers, authorities believe the deaths were probably related to drug gangs, who are known to leave the bodies of their victims—often mutilated—in public places as a warning to their rivals. A message left near the scene suggested that the notorious, extremely violent Las Zetas drug cartel was implicated in the murders. The 43 male, and six female bodies were found with the heads, hands, and feet cut off (making it difficult to identify them) and some were tattooed with “Santa Muerte,” the Mexican skeletal saint of death. In September, a drug gang allied with the Sinaloa cartel (who rival Las Zetas) left 35 bodies at a freeway overpass in the city of Veracruz; a few days later, police found 32 other bodies, killed by the same gang with the goal of taking over territory dominated by Las Zetas. This month, 23 bodies have been found dumped or hanging in the city of Nuevo Laredo and another 18 were found along a highway south of Guadalajara, Mexico. Violence related to organized crime in Mexico has reportedly claimed more than 50,000 lives, most of them in Mexican states near the US border. Nuevo León state security spokesman Jorge Domene said on Sunday that the violence is taking place between drug gangs and is "not an attack against the civil population.”

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