72 immigrants set out in search of the elusive American dream. Sadly, the Mexican nightmare brought their dream to an end only miles from their destination.
The Secretary of the Navy reported Tuesday night that 72 bodies, 58 men and 14 women, were found on a ranch in the municipality of San Fernando, Tamaulipas, 150 km. from the the U.S. border city of Brownsville.
The discovery came after a shootout with Zetas that killed one marine and three suspects.
Navy troops were alerted to the area after a wounded man arrived at a naval checkpoint requesting medical assistance after being kidnapped and wounded by members of Los Zeta cartel in a nearby ranch .
Mexican armed forces immediately took control of the area by land and air. One juvenile, linked to the gunmen, was detained.
The Navy reported seizing 21 rifles: six 5.6 mm M-4 carbines, three 7.60 mm AK-47, seven 12 gauge shotguns, five .22 caliber rifles, 101 magazines of various calibers, two ammunition belts, six thousand 649 cartridges of various calibers, four bullet proof vests, and one helmet.
Also seized were four trucks, one of them with cloned apocryphal emblems of the Ministry of National Defense (SEDENA).
Security spokesman, Alejandro Poire, said preliminary data confirm the victims were illegal immigrants originating from El Salvador, Honduras, Ecuador and Brazil.
The surviving witness told authorities the victims, while attempting to get to the U.S. border, had been kidnapped by armed men who identified themselves as Zetas.
The man, who is said to be from Ecuador, stated a group of roughly 75 immigrants, originating from Central and South America, entered Mexico through Chiapas with the intention of entering the United States.
He added the armed men tried to extort them and take their money, but when they refused, they opened fire, killing his travel mates, and leaving him for dead.
The unidentified witness narrated after hearing screams, pleading, gunfire, and seeing the assassins leave the ranch, he ran in search of help and found the Navy patrol.
The witness was taken to a Matamoras hospital where he remains in protective custody while being treated for gunshot wounds to the face and collarbone.
Federal officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AP the bodies were found in an open room type area, some were stacked while others were still in a seated position.
It was also reported to AP all of the victims had been killed within the last few days.
This gruesome discovery far exceeds the 55 bodies found in a Taxco mine on May 29 and the 51 bodies found in mass grave located in Juarez, Nuevo Leon on July 22.
The ranch where the bodies were found.