The authorities of the state of Tamaulipas, in northeastern Mexico, reported the discovery of 19 bodies in an uninhabited area near the border with the United States.
The victims were shot to death and their bodies burned, according to early investigations. Witnesses told the EFE agency that it is a group of Guatemalans.
The Tamaulipas Attorney General’s Office indicated in a statement that the discovery occurred on Friday afternoon in a remote region of the municipality of Camargo, on the border of that state with neighboring Nuevo León.
The police received a citizen complaint that near the town of Santa Anita there were two vehicles on fire. In one of them, a cargo van, were the bodies of the 19 people.
“From the first investigations it is established that the death was caused by firearm projectiles and then they were set on fire,” the Attorney General’s Office reported.
Since no casings of the bullets used in the crime were found at the scene, the authorities suspect that the bodies and the vehicles were abandoned there.
Witnesses who spoke with the EFE agency assured that the victims are from Guatemala. Authorities did not provide details of the identities or their origin.
The area is known for “the constant fights between rival criminal groups that traffic drugs, weapons and migrants,” said a source close to the investigation cited by Reuters.
Tamaulipas has been one of the states hardest hit by violence by criminal gangs since the 2000s. It is also a route for migrants seeking to reach the Texas border.
According to testimonies collected by EFE, on Friday afternoon a group of gunmen from the Northeast Cartel (CDN) entered the region to search for a leader of the rival group, the Gulf Cartel (CDG).
After a confrontation, the CDN hitmen located 19 people and murdered them on the spot. They then left the bodies at the place where they were found by the police.
The CDG and the CDN have been in a dispute for control of the northeastern states of Mexico since March 2010, a conflict that has caused more than 15,000 disappeared and thousands of deaths since that date.
In Tamaulipas last year 571 homicides were registered, according to official figures.
The state has been a risk territory for Central American migrants seeking to reach the US Criminal gangs have been responsible for kidnappings, forced recruitment or murders against them.
One of the most chilling cases was the murder of 72 Central American migrants in the municipality of San Fernando, whose bodies were found in October 2010.
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