It is now twenty six, the number of bodies that were discovered bound and gagged on Thursday in vehicles abandoned in the heart of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico's second-largest city and the site of the recent Pan American Games, officials said.
Best known as the home of mariachi music and tequila, this picturesque colonial city has also been the historic base for methamphetamine trafficking by the powerful Sinaloa cartel. The cartel's tight grip on the city was shattered by the death of its regional commander, Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel, in a shootout with federal police in July 2010.
Feet are seen inside a truck where bodies were found in Guadalajara, Mexico, Thursday Nov. 24, 2011. At least 20 bodies were discovered early Thursday in three vehicles abandoned in the heart of Guadalajara, Mexico's second-largest city and the site of the recent Pan American Games, an official said. (AP Photo/Victor Fernandez)
Guadalajara's murder rate then soared as factions of the cartel known as La Nueva Generacion (Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion - CJNG), and the La Resistenica (a La Familia faction group) battled to control Coronel's territory and assets. Street battles have left hundreds dead in the city and surrounding areas.
Security officials have said they feared that the chaos could provide an opening for the Zetas drug cartel, which has been using paramilitary-style tactics and headline-grabbing atrocities in a national push to seize territory from older organized crime groups.
But killing slowed to a trickle during the Oct. 15-30 Pan American Games, which brought a massive influx of police and soldiers.
A soldier patrols as a vehicle that was discovered carrying bodies inside is taken away in Guadalajara, Mexico, Thursday Nov. 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Victor Fernandez).
Now, the violence appears to have surged back, in the form of the mass killing and public dumping of bodies that has marred other cities such as Veracruz.
The state prosecutor's office said the slain men in Guadalajara were found at 6:29 a.m. in two vans and a pickup truck left near the Milennium Arches, one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city in western Mexico.
The Secretary General of the State Government, Fernando Guzman Perez-Pelaez, explained that in a blue caravan 10 nude bodies were found with their hands tied and gagged. One of them beheaded.
Investigators from the Forensic Science Institute of Jalisco said all the bodies had the words "Milenio Zeta" written on them with oil.
In another vehicle, a Nissan pickup truck, investigators found 9 bodies with plastic bags over their heads and their hands and feet were tied. In the white van there were 7 semi-nude bodies, also with the same message.
The Secretary General of the Government said the 26 bodies were male and were between 25 to 35 years of age.
The arches stand less than a mile (1.6 kilometers) from the Expo Guadalajara events center, the site of both Pan Am Games events and the Guadalajara International Book Fair, which opens Saturday and describes itself as the world's most important Spanish-language book fair. The fair's website said it was expecting more than 600,000 visitors from around the world.
A soldier and police officer stand guard as a van that was discovered carrying bodies inside is taken away in Guadalajara, Mexico. (AP Photo/Victor Fernandez).
On Wednesday, 17 bodies were found burned in two pickup trucks in a strikingly similar attack in Sinaloa, the home state of the eponymous cartel. Twelve of the bodies were in the back of one truck, some of them handcuffed and wearing bulletproof vests.
Luis Carlos Najera, public security secretary for the state of Jalisco, where Guadalajara is located, said Thursday morning that a message had been found in one of the vehicles containing the most recent bodies, but he didn't offer more details. Mexican drug cartels frequently leave threatening messages with the bodies of their victims as a way of sowing fear and taking credit for their actions. Unconfirmed sources however say that the narco message that was found inside a vehicle was in fact signed by the criminal group Milenio-Zetas who are rumored to have moved in to take the region from CJNG.
Below is the complete narco-message that was found on Thursday morning near the Millennium Arches in Guadalajara. It speaks of "El Chapo", as well as Emilio Gonzalez and Malova, who, according to the banner (manta), they hold an alliance with "Mayo" Zambada.
"We're in Jalisco and we are not leaving, the fight is not with the town people, it's with El Chapo, Mayo Zambada, who are wanting to fight and they can't even defend their own turf, it is the same with the ones from Jalisco with their Nueva Generacion, it is the same with El Chapo and El Mayo who are a bunch of informants for the American government and not of us, the same Vicente Zamabada says so, he is the son of Mario Zambada, that they are informants for the gringos for all the people who work for El chapo and El Mayo, and the ones from Jalisco, who do not control their own turf, the same thing that happened to Flaco "Dalgiero" will happen to you all, and for all those that have told on El Chapo and El Mayo. And the ones from Jalisco, take the blindfold off , the Sinaloa Cartel is history, just like the ones from Jalisco, they do not control their own turf. We bring you a shit mess and you don't even know from where the Voladora is falling on you from, becasue the governor of Jalisco and Sinaloa are close friends of Mayo Zambada. that you were so peaceful in Jalisco and Sinaloa, and now with your arrangements you don't know what to do, look, here we leave you your dead ones, if we can abduct (levanton) them ourselves so you can see that we do not need any help from any asshole, we are in all the way inside the kitchen, we are showing you that without the support of the Mexican army, Marines or PFP or any other federal or state authority and this is proof that we are deep inside the kitchen "
Atte: "Z" group, the strong cartel at a national level, the only cartel that is not an informant of the Americans (gringos). This group exists, in loyalty, honor, Z group , always loyal."
The CJNG began to appear in news stories last year, especially following the death of Ignacio Coronel, the Sinaloa Cartel "Cartel de Sinaloa" (CDS) big shot who controlled much of the Pacific region. Most reports focused on the group’s battles with La Resistencia, another local gang, for control of Jalisco’s biggest city, Guadalajara, and the surrounding region.
While the initial interpretation of the CJNG's emergence was that they were merely a local iteration of the CDS composed of Coronel’s erstwhile subordinates, recent weeks have provided evidence of a group striking out on its own. Last June the group attached messages to dead bodies dumped along a highway in the state of Guanajuato taunting a wide range of groups like: La Familia, Los Zetas, La Resistencia, and, strikingly, the CDS.
CJNG were said to have committed a similar mass execution in Veracruz under the name of MataZetas where they ended up executing at least 67 alleged Zetas in and around Veracruz within a couple of days
Responding to a reporter's question, Najera told the Televisa television network that he believed the recent calm in Guadalajara was the result of an increase in security and not because drug cartels had struck a truce with each other during the games.
He declined to comment on the possible motives for the slayings, saying only that investigators had "various hypotheses."
The Zetas have taken over neighboring Zacatecas state in their push west, and are said to be eyeing Guadalajara both for the meth trade and for the potential of extortion.
Analysts have said there is some indication that factions such as La Resistencia (a La Familia faction) will join the Zetas, which would produce a coalition threatening Sinaloa's methamphetamine operations.
List of victims identified so far:
1. Saúl Emmanuel Mendoza Jasso, 21 years old, of colonia Sauz, a native of Guadalajara, was a floor salesman at Sam's Club for three years. He disappeared on Tuesday November 23.
2. Juan Ramón Mora Alonso, 29, was a native of Guadalajara, he was a technician in thermo plastic factory for five years. The deceased had a rearrest warrant for the crime of vehicle theft in the Fourth Court issued Criminal 194/2008-B within the process number, dated March 26, 2009. According to information from his fingerprints he had a history of theft.
3.Juan Pablo Celis Velasco, 24 years old, was born in Guadalajara and worked for three years as a driver. Disappeared from on November 22.
4.Ramón Velasco, 28, lived in Miravalle, he worked delivering pizzas. He disappeared the night of November 22.
5. Victor Andres Jaime Rivera, 19 años. he had a local video game sales in the market in Constitution and was a native of Guadalajara. He disappeared the night of November 23.
6.José Guzman Martinez, 23, he lived in the colonia constitution, he was an electrician and was a native of Guadalajara. He disappeared the night of November 23.
7. Luis Sánchez Quezada, who has yet to be officially identified and claimed by their family, but according to their fingerprints he have two conviction for crimes against health.
8. Juan Carlos Ámaton Avila, 23 years old, lived in the colonia constitution in Zapopan, and was a native of Guadalajara. Worked as a house painter. He disappeared the night of November 23.
9.José Guadalupe Buenrostro Calzada, 29, lived in Lomas de Tlaquepaque. Was employed by Sam's Club in the area offruits and vegetables and was a native of Guadalajara, he has been missing since Nov. 23.
10.Juan Carlos Andrade Esquivel, 40, lived in the Jardines del Valle in Zapopan, who was a native of Guadalajara, and hamburgers seller for 16 years. He disappeared the night of November 23.
11.Identified as Carlos Solis Coronado, 34-year-old native of Aguascalientes. He was a mechanic. He disappeared on November 21.
12.Juan Cázares Guzmán, was identified by his fingerprints, his name was found to have a criminal record in Aguascalientes for the crime of fraud.
Dodge Ram Van type
13. Vidal Alejandro Robles, 22 years old, lived in San Juan de Ocotán, the municipality of Zapopan, worked as a dental technician in a lab for three years and was a native of Guadalajara. Disappeared the night of November 21. This person was with Édgar Ramón Chávez Martínez.
14.José Antonio Parga Guareño, 23, a native of Guadalajara and domiciled in the colonia Lopez Portillo, worked as a driver for five months. Missing since Nov. 22.
15. Ramon Chavez Edgar Martinez, age 21, who lived in San Juan de Ocotán, was from Zapopan, and was a driver for Aga for six months. He disappeared on 21 November.
16.Octavio Gutierrez Rodriguez, 36, lived in colonia Santa Margarita, was a native of Zapopan and worked as a baker. He was missing since Nov. 21.
17.Horacio Oceguera López, 31, residing in colonia Santa Margarita, he had been selling cars for a year, was a native of Guadalajara and has been missing since Nov. 23. This person had a rearrest warrant, in criminal proceedings 779/2004-D number issued by the Third Criminal Court, dated November 9, 2004, in addition, he also had a history of drug crimes.
18.Salvador Zuno Barragán, was identified by his fingerprints, his criminal record was for the crime of robbery.
19. According to his fingerprints, the body of number 19, has a history of crimes against health, he is partially identified. However, the Attorney General of the State of Jalisco (PGJEJ) did not reveal his name.