- Mexican authorities say they have found 10 more bodies in the port city of Veracruz, adding to scores of dead there in recent weeks as drug violence rages.
Veracruz officials said in a statement [link in Spanish] late Friday night that seven bodies had turned up in a pickup truck in a Laguna Real neighborhood on the edge of the city. Three others were found in a separate section called Colinas de Santa Fe. Mexican media reports Saturday said the three bodies had been tossed in the street.
The latest discoveries bring to more than 90 the number of killings in the busy port city in recent weeks. Veracruz, on the Gulf of Mexico, has been beset by escalating violence at the hands of rival armed groups.
The Zetas gang that dominates in the southern state is at war with the so-called Gulf cartel, once its ally, and also appears to have come under attack by traffickers based in the northwestern state of Sinaloa. A group calling itself the "Zeta killers" announced in a video message that it hopes to wipe out the Zetas, who have terrorized Veracruz residents through kidnapping, extortion and slayings.
The Mexican government this week announced a military-led crackdown in Veracruz. On Friday, navy officials said they had arrested eight members of the "Zeta killers" believed to have taken part in the recent carnage, including dumping 35 bodies on a busy street in the community of Boca del Rio, a favorite stopover for Mexican tourists. Naval officials Friday also announced the capture of 12 suspects identified as members of the Zetas.
The appearance of the "Zeta killers," and the specter of the emergence of armed paramilitaries, has clearly unnerved the government of Mexican President Felipe Calderon. Officials have vehemently denied the presence of paramilitary groups, characterizing the gunmen as common criminals working for one cartel or another. Indeed, there has not been solid proof yet of the rise of death squads that are unaffiliated with cartels.