49 Bodies Found Along Mexican Highway

By Valerie Tejeda 05/14/12

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

Police and army personnel investigating the
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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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Entertainment journalist and author Valerie Tejeda spends her days reporting on books, television, and all things pertaining to pop culture, and spends her nights writing novels for teens. Her stories have appeared on a variety of different publications, including but not limited to: VanityFair, MTV, The Huffington Post, TeenVogue, She Knows, Latina, The Fix, Salon.com, Cosmopolitan, and more. You can find Valerie on Linkedin and Twitter.