Sunday, September 16, 2012

Gruesome discovery in Jalisco on Independence Day: 17 bodies dumped along highway to neighboring Michoacán

A disquieting event in normally tranquil Jalisco state

There was no respite for law enforcement authorities in Jalisco today, as Mexico celebrated its 202nd birthday amid plenty of evidence that the 70 month old drug war rages on unabated.

The state prosecutor's office reported that at about 5:30 a.m., the bodies of 17 partially clothed men were found alongside a major highway which runs from this cultural heart of the nation to Morelia, capital of Michoacán state, just to the southeast. The bodies were discovered by passing motorists, piled up alongside the roadway. All had been bound with chains or ropes. Their eyes were taped shut.

Investigators say the victims were killed elsewhere and then dumped on the highway. They were adult males, say police, and appeared to have died from gunshot wounds. None of them have been identified. Their remains have been brought to Guadalajara for post-mortem examination.

One news report quoted witnesses as saying that the bodies were tossed from two passing trucks.

Mass body dumpings have been common events in Mexico's six year old drug war. Thirteen corpses were found on a Michoacán street last January, and in May 48 cadavers - most of which were never identified - were abandoned along a highway in northern Nuevo Léon state. Perhaps Mexico's most notorious cadaver dumping occurred in Veracruz in September 2011, when cartel sicarios casually left 35 bodies in the middle of a city freeway during rush hour, in view of hundreds of horrified locals.

Guadalajara has not been completely immune to such brutalities. Last November, 26 corpses were abandoned in three vehicles within the city limits. Still, today's find was an atypical event in this state, and is further evidence of what some experts have predicted for this region (Mexican drug cartels will likely morph into "super gangs," says U.S. security firm).

Sept. 17 - Investigators are working on the theory that the 17 victims were killed in Michoacán state and then dumped in Jalisco. All the bodies bore signs of torture; all had a tiro de gracia (mercy shot) to the head. A cattle truck in which some of the remains were hauled to the scene was abandoned there by the executioners. Forensic personnel have not excluded the possibility that the men were from Central America, based upon physical characteristics. They may have been headed to the United States. Sometimes such undocumented persons are lured or impressed into the service of narcotics traffickers. Prime suspects in this case include two cartels: Jalisco Nueva Generación (commonly known as Los Matazetas), and Los Caballeros Templarios. Perhaps revealing the extreme sensitivity of Jalisco state police to such events in this part of the country, a national news network claims that press photographers who rushed to the scene were threatened and physically assaulted to deter them from taking pictures. A reporter told the network that police broke his camera lens.

Sept. 18 - All the victims are estimated to be between 30 and 45, but only six have been identified, via fingerprints. Two served prison time; one was a former soldier in the Mexican army. Some carried papers with Central American phone numbers.

Sept. 23 - Along the Jalisco-Michoacán border, seven more bodies were discovered abandoned in the back of a pickup truck early Saturday (Sept. 22). All the victims had been quartered and burned. Forensic investigators say they appear to be the remains of males 25-30. That makes 24 presumptive drug war executions in or near Jalisco's southern extremities in one week.

Oct. 30 - The Jalisco state prosecutor has announced the arrests of "various persons" allegedly responsible for the murders. Eight of the 17 victims have neither been identified nor claimed, and probably won't be at this point, almost six weeks after the event.

Sept. 6 - Six murders in 12 hours alarm Guadalajara metro and suburbs; security sweeps underway
Aug. 27 - Mexico, "deadliest country in the world"
Aug. 26 - More narco blockades in Guadalajara, by Los Matazetas
May 5 - A Cinco de Mayo surprise in Nuevo Laredo

Los Matazetas
Apr. 18 - 50 Matazeta executioners in Cancún to "control the plaza" for Chapo Guzmán
Apr. 29 - Los Pelones killer in Cancún also may have been hit man for Los Matazetas
Apr. 17 - Los Matazetas - the "Zeta killers" - may have arrived in Cancún, authorities fear

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