Crime and Violence

23 bodies found in Tamaulipas, 14 decapitated and nine hung from bridge

Photo: Vanguardia

05/08/12 – On Friday, May 5, the bodies of 23 people were found gruesomely murdered in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, which shares a border with Texas. Authorities were first alerted to the bodies of nine victims hung from a bridge, four of which were women. Not long after, the bodies of 14 decapitated men were found packed in a van, their heads later discovered in ice chests at a different location in town.

State officials from the Tamaulipas Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la Justicia del Estado, PGJE) were initially called to the scene to handle the investigation, however federal officials from the Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) have since gotten involved, most notably because of the strong possibility of the murders being related to organized crime. Along with the overt message sent through the decapitations, the nine hanging bodies all showed signs of torture and mutilation, which authorities indicated were signs of drug-related violence. Tamaulipas has seen rather elevated levels of drug-related crime in recent years, given its location as a border state and thus a high transit route for drug trafficking. Organized crime groups, specifically the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas, have been engaged in a tough battle for the lucrative territory, which has resulted in annual drug-related homicide rates in Tamaulipas totaling 725 and 675 in 2010 and 2011, respectively. According to Reforma’s running tally of ejecuciones (drug-related deaths), as of May 4, there were 160 such killings in the state, which is a little less than a third of the total at that point in 2011 (about 450), and less than half of the total in 2010 at the same time (about 220).

Although levels of drug-related violence are much lower than where they were the past few years, Friday’s gruesome public display was a reminder to citizens of the current public security crisis that Mexico faces. In an effort to reassure his constituency, Tamaulipas Governor Egidio Torre Cantú remarked, “We are doing our best, you all know that, in every part of Tamaulipas and in Nuevo Laredo.” He specifically pointed to the joint efforts between the military (Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional, Sedena) and the state police forces (Policía Estatal, PE) to control and protect the people in the state, assuring that federal troops would remain a presence on the ground, reported El Universal and Notimex.

The bodies of the 23 victims are being held at the Forensic Medical Services (Servicio Médico Forense, Semefo) in Nuevo Laredo, while investigations are underway.


“23 dead in day of horror for Mexico border city.” AFP. May 4, 2012.

“Los cuerpos de 23 personas son encontrados en Nuevo Laredo.” CNN México. May 4, 2012.

Excélsior. “PGJE analiza pedir apoyo a PGR por muertes en Nuevo Laredo.” Vanguardia. May 5, 2012.

Redacción. “PGR indaga crímenes en Tamaulipas.” El Universal. May 6, 2012.

“Ejecútometro.” Grupo Reforma. Accessed May 4, 2012.

5 thoughts on “23 bodies found in Tamaulipas, 14 decapitated and nine hung from bridge”

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