Army troops found 16 more bodies in the mass graves outside the northern city of San Fernando, raising the total number of bodies discovered to 88, the Mexican Defense Secretariat said.
The latest find was made Sunday in four mass graves located following the arrest of one of the individuals suspected of abducting and killing bus passengers in Tamaulipas, a state on the border with Texas, the secretariat said.
Armando Morales Uscanga told investigators that he participated in the kidnapping and killing of bus passengers on March 24 and March 29, the secretariat said.
The suspect also confessed to killing and burying 43 other people, whose remains were found last Wednesday at the site outside San Fernando, the secretariat said.
Morales Uscanga was carrying nearly $5,000 in Mexican and U.S. currency, as well as an assault rifle, at the time of his arrest.
Soldiers plan to continue digging at the site, which contains 14 mass graves, raising the possibility that more bodies might be found.
The victims were all apparently Mexicans, the secretariat said.
Gunmen stopped a bus and took away all the young males, releasing older males and women, eyewitnesses to one of the mass kidnappings told Mexican media.
The dangerous situation in the area has forced some bus companies operating out of Reynosa, located across the border from McAllen, Texas, to suspend service on routes that pass through San Fernando, affecting thousands of people, the press reported.
A total of 14 suspects have been arrested in connection with the killings, officials said.
Los Zetas, considered Mexico’s most violent drug cartel, has been blamed for the wave of violence in Tamaulipas and other parts of northern Mexico.
Some gangs have resorted to using unusual methods to recruit gunmen because of the high casualties in the war being waged by rival drug traffickers for control of territory, the federal government says.
The incidents involving the buses may have been an attempt to recruit gunmen, investigators said.
Los Zetas is suspected of murdering 72 migrants last August at a ranch outside San Fernando after they refused to join the organization as hired guns.
The bodies of the 58 men and 14 women were discovered on Aug. 24 by marines after a shootout with gunmen that left a marine and three criminals dead.
The massacre victims came from Ecuador, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Brazil and India, but the majority were Hondurans.
The mass graves were found in La Joya, a rural community outside San Fernando, near where the migrants’ bodies were discovered last summer.
News of the mass graves’ discovery broke on Wednesday, the same day that thousands of people marched in cities across Mexico to call for an end to the wave of drug-related violence that has claimed the lives of more than 35,000 people since late 2006.
16 arrested for the mass murder in graves
The Attorney General's Office (PGR) reported that so far there have been 16 people arrested for their alleged involvement in the assassination and clandestine burial of at least 88 people in Tamaulipas.
The Ministry of National Defense (SEDENA) reported late Sunday that they had apprehended a man identified as Cesar Armando Morales Uscanga who provided information on the location of four more graves with at least more 16 bodies in the municipality of San Fernando, which increased to 88 the number of bodies found in an area affected by drug violence.
The PGR said that Sunday the military had detained another man identified as Erik Zetina Rubén Hernández who was connected with the killings. So far 14 graves have been located.
The Department of Defense noted that Morales had confessed to participating in the kidnapping and murder of bus passengers that had been buried underground.
Another 14 suspects, who were linked to the cartel Los Zetas, were arrested last week.
Source: EFE and Observador