MONTERREY, Mexico – Three dismembered bodies and assorted body parts were found at a ranch in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, the State Investigations Agency, or AEI, said.
The ranch was apparently used by drug traffickers to “cook” the remains of slain rivals, the AEI said.
Authorities went to the abandoned ranch, located on a trail that leads to the Comunidad Chihuahuitas district of the city of Cadereyta, after receiving an anonymous tip about a burned body, the AEI said.
Army troops, Attorney General’s Office investigators and AEI agents went to the ranch to check out the tip and discovered three torsos in a well.
Investigators also found an ax and fuel-filled barrels that were apparently used to burn human bodies, officials said.
Other human body parts were found at the ranch, but investigators have not determined whether they came from the three dismembered bodies or from other victims.
“There is information to confirm that we are dealing with several bodies,” state security council spokesman Jorge Domene said.
AEI investigators are working to determine whether a mass grave found at the ranch contains more than the five bodies originally estimated, Domene said.
The AG’s office investigators plan to use heavy machinery in the search for more human remains.
More than 50 people, including an oil workers union leader and 37 employees of state-owned oil giant Pemex, have been reported missing in the past four years in Cadereyta, where drug traffickers operate.
A total of 183 bodies have been recovered this month from 40 mass graves found in San Fernando, a city in neighboring Tamaulipas state.
Authorities, meanwhile, have found 96 bodies in clandestine graves in Durango city, the capital of the like-named state.
Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas have been rocked by a wave of violence unleashed by drug traffickers battling for control of smuggling routes into the United States.
More than 1,000 people, including about 80 police officers, have died in the violence in Nuevo Leon in the past year.
The violence has intensified in the two border states since the appearance in Monterrey in February 2010 of giant banners heralding an alliance of the Gulf, Sinaloa and La Familia drug cartels against Los Zetas.
Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, known as “El Lazca,” deserted from the Mexican army in 1999 and formed Los Zetas with three other soldiers, all members of an elite special operations unit, becoming the armed wing of the Gulf drug cartel.
After several years on the payroll of the Gulf cartel, Los Zetas went into the drug business on their own account and now control several lucrative territories.
The cartels arrayed against Los Zetas blame the group’s involvement in kidnappings, armed robbery and extortion for discrediting “true drug traffickers” in the eyes of ordinary Mexicans willing to tolerate the illicit trade as long as the gangs stuck to their own unwritten rule against harming innocents.
A total of 15,270 people died in drug-related violence in Mexico last year, and more than 36,000 people have died since President Felipe Calderon declared war on the country’s cartels shortly after taking office in December 2006. EFE