Brutal wave of murders hits northern Mexican city | News | DW | 05.05.2012
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Brutal wave of murders hits northern Mexican city

A series of gruesome murders has hit the Mexican city of Nuevo Laredo, an area known for fierce fighting between drug cartels. The violence comes days after the murders of several journalists in Veracruz state.

The northern Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo was hit by a wave of brutal violence on Friday, with nine bodies hung from a bridge and the heads of 14 decapitated corpses left in an icebox outside of city hall.

Motorists encountered the bodies, including four women, hanging from the overpass of a major highway, according to a Tamaulipas state police official cited by the Associated Press. The decapitated corpses were found in plastic bags near an international bridge. A threatening letter, whose contents have not been disclosed by authorities, was left with the bodies' heads outside of city hall.

Although Mexican authorities did not indicate who was responsible for the murders, Nuevo Laredo has been the scene of some of the worst violence in Mexico's more than five-year-old drug war. Nuevo Laredo, which sits just across the border from Laredo in the US state of Texas, has been torn by turf wars between the rival Zeta and Gulf drug cartels.

Brutal drug war

The Zetas, ex-members of Mexico's special forces, were once enforcers for the Gulf cartel but broke from their former employers in 2010, leading to an escalation of violence in northern Mexico. The Sinaloa cartel also battles for control of the drug-trade routes that lead to lucrative markets in the United States.

Friday's violence in Nuevo Laredo follows a violent week throughout Mexico. In the northwestern state of Sinaloa, 36 people were killed in clashes between soldiers and drug gangs. In neighboring Veracruz state, the dismembered bodies of two news photographers and two others were found by security forces. Those murders came just days after a reporter was killed in the same state.

Mexico has become one of the most dangerous states in the world for journalists, with members of the press disproportionately targeted in cartel violence.

Since out-going President Felipe Calderon deployed soldiers and police to crackdown on organized crime in 2006, some 50,000 Mexicans have died in cartel-related violence.

slk/ai (AP, AFP)