Veracruz City, Mexico: Drug Gang Gunmen Dump 35 Bodies On Highway: UPDATED

21 Sep

Soldiers and police block off an area where 35 bodies lay under an overpass in Veracruz, Mexico, Tuesday Sept. 20, 2011. Masked gunmen blocked traffic on the busy avenue in a Gulf of Mexico coastal cinext

Soldiers and police block off an area where 35 bodies lay under an overpass in Veracruz, …
 
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Suspected drug traffickers dumped 35 bodies at rush hour beneath a busy overpass in the heart of a major Gulf coast city as gunmen pointed weapons at frightened drivers. Mexican authorities said Wednesday they are examining surveillance video for clues to who committed the crime.

Horrified motorists grabbed cell phones and sent Twitter messages warning others to avoid the area near the biggest shopping mall in Boca del Rio, part of the metropolitan area of Veracruz city.

The gruesome gesture marked a sharp escalation in cartel violence in Veracruz state, which sits on an important route for drugs and Central American migrants heading north.

Soldiers and police block off an area where 35 bodies lay under an overpass in Veracruz, …

The Zetas drug cartel has been battling other gangs for control of the state.

Prosecutors said it’s too soon to draw conclusions from the surveillance video.

“We’re not going to confirm or deny anything,” Veracruz state Attorney General Reynaldo Escobar Perez told the Televisa network Wednesday. “We’re looking at it in different ways, we’re seeing different numbers, that’s why we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.”

Escobar said the bodies were left piled in two trucks and on the ground under the overpass near the statue of the Voladores de Papantla, ritual dancers from Veracruz state. He said some of the victims had their heads covered with black plastic bags and showed signs of torture.

Police had identified seven of the victims so far and all had criminal records for murder, drug dealing, kidnapping and extortion and were linked to organized crime, Escobar said.

Motorists posted Twitter warnings said the masked gunmen were in military uniforms and were blocking Manuel Avila Camacho Boulevard.

“They don’t seem to be soldiers or police,” one tweet read. Another said, “Don’t go through that area, there is danger.”

Veracruz is currently hosting a conference of Mexico’s top state and federal prosecutors and judiciary officials.

Local media said that 12 of the victims were women and that some of the dead men had been among prisoners who escaped from three Veracruz prisons on Monday, but Escobar denied the escaped convicts were among the dead.

At least 32 inmates got away from the three Veracruz prisons. Police recaptured 14 of them.

Drug violence has claimed more than 35,000 lives across Mexico since 2006, according to government figures. Others put the number at more than 40,000.

NEWS UPDATE:

VERACRUZ, Mexico (AP) — At least 11 bodies have been found in and around the Gulf Coast city of Veracruz, two days after gunmen dumped 35 bodies on a busy avenue of the metropolis, a Mexican official said Friday.

An official in the Mexican armed forces told The Associated Press that at least 11 bodies were discovered Thursday in the neighboring cities of Veracruz and Boca del Rio. He said it was not clear whether the attacks are related.

The official couldn’t be quoted by name for security reasons.

Thirty-five bound, seminude and tortured bodies of rival gang members were dumped beneath an overpass during rush hour Tuesday as gunmen waved weapons at horrified motorists.

The official said the attack was believed to be the work of a group called the New Generation, which arrived in the state of Veracruz three months ago to challenge the dominant Zetas cartel.

The gang is believed to be linked to Mexico’s most-wanted drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, according to a U.S. law enforcement official, who also couldn’t be named for security reasons.

The port of Veracruz has seen a sharp escalation in drug violence this week during a convention of the country’s top prosecutors.

Mexico’s Attorney General Marisela Morales said drug dealing was one of the causes behind the mass killing earlier this week.

State prosecutors have said the majority of the 35 victims identified had police records that included kidnappings, extortion, murder and drug dealing. Authorities have not released their identities, but have said that one victim was a local police officer who had gone missing.

“It’s no surprise to anybody that the criminal gangs are fighting to control turf and dominate drug dealers,” Morales said.

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