Ten bodies were found in a town in the northern part of the Mexican Gulf coast state of Veracruz, a region battered by a wave of drug-related violence in recent days, officials said.
The corpses were found Friday morning near Veracruz’s border with the neighboring state of Tamaulipas, the Veracruz state Attorney General’s Office said.
Although authorities did not provide details of crimes, sources said the slain individuals were dumped in the town of Tampico Alto and that the bodies bore signs of torture and some had been decapitated.
The bodies were found 24 hours after 16 people were killed in violent incidents in that same region, including seven civilians who perished in attacks by an armed commando on three passenger buses.
The Gulf, Los Zetas, and the relatively new Jalisco Nueva Generacion cartels, as well as breakaway members of the once-powerful La Familia Michoacana crime syndicate, are fueling the violence in Veracruz, where more than 500 people have been killed this year.
Residents of Veracruz city, until recently relatively untouched by drug-related violence, were stunned on Sept. 20 by the discovery of 35 bodies dumped on a busy thoroughfare.
A week later, 32 bodies were found at three drug-gang “safe houses” in the Veracruz-Boca del Rio metro area.
The recent uptick in violence prompted the federal government to deploy the military to the state in October.
The federal operation involves cleaning up local police departments and strengthening intelligence efforts to bolster security across Veracruz state, which is Mexico’s third-most populous and is coveted as a key drug-trafficking corridor to the United States.
Elsewhere, Mexican authorities on Friday found the decapitated bodies of three men under a bridge near the city of Los Mochis, Sinaloa state, officials said.
Two of the heads had their eyes bandaged and had been placed over the word “halcon” (falcon) and a drawing of that bird, state police said in a statement.
“Halcon” is a slang term in Mexico that refers to informants for drug-trafficking groups, often taxi drivers, who lead cartel hit men to their targets.
The bodies had their hands tied behind their backs and bore signs of torture, the statement said, adding that agents with the Sinaloa state Attorney General’s Office, army soldiers and local police cordoned off the crime scene.
The three victims were found in the same place where authorities on Thursday discovered the corpse of a municipal police officer kidnapped on Dec. 18.
That body also bore signs of torture and was found alongside a message apparently left by the killers, although it was not made public.
Numerous gangs are involved in the fight for control of drug-trafficking routes in Mexico, including the powerful Sinaloa and Los Zetas cartels.
The mobs’ turf wars and their clashes with security forces have left more than 50,000 dead since December 2006, when newly inaugurated President Felipe Calderon took office and militarized the struggle against organized crime.