09/21/11 — The port city of Veracruz was the scene of gruesome violence yesterday when a busy road was littered with 35 bodies during rush hour in an act of public retaliation. The bodies were dumped Tuesday afternoon in broad daylight under a road bridge in the municipality of Boca del Rio in the metropolitan area of the tourist port of Veracruz, near the city’s biggest shopping mall. Motorists during the 5 p.m. rush hour were immobilized and watched in horror as two trucks in the main avenue dumped the corpses as gunmen stood guard and pointed their weapons at civilians in their cars. The gunmen jumped out of the truck and opened the bed to throw some bodies on the street. Alongside the bodies, a banner was hung with a message directed against the criminal organization Los Zetas and their “collaborators,” saying that the group responsible for the dumping was “settling accounts.” The “narco-message” was signed by the organization called the New People (Gente Nueva).
Motorists caught in the scene quickly posted warnings on Twitter that masked gunmen in military uniforms 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.”
The prosecutor in the state of Veracruz, Reynaldo Escobar Pérez , announced Wednesday that all of the dead had been identified, which included 12 women, two minors ages 15 and 17, and a member of the Intermunicipal Police Veracruz-Boca del Rio unit, reported El Universal. “We have determined that almost all have criminal records linked to organized crime such as kidnapping, extortion, murder, drug dealing, or auto theft,” said Escobar. “We see that there was torture, and sadism in the execution of these people,” he added, referencing that the victims had bound hands and feet with their heads covered in plastic black bags. They were killed just hours before the public display, since none of the bodies showed any signs of decomposition. It was also reported that this murder could be related to the escape of 32 prisoners on Monday in three prisons in the state, of which 14 were recaptured. Authorities, however, have not confirmed a link between the events in Veracruz.
The killings are the second public act of spiraling violence that has resulted in more victims’ deaths in Mexico in less than a month after an arson that left 52 dead at a casino on August 25 in Monterrey. It reveals the scope of increasing violence in the country’s battle against organized crime. In the state of Veracruz, the main drug cartels vying for territory and control are Los Zetas, the Gulf cartel, and La Familia Michoacana. Juan Marcos Gutierrez, the Secretary of Government of the Interior Ministry (Gobierno de la Secretaría de Gobernación, Segob), suggested that the murders were a result of the struggle between said organized crime groups. “This is something that can calm the population,” he said in a telephone interview with Milenio Television. “This is not about civilians. These are people involved in illicit business, in drug sales.” He warned that Veracruz will reinforce security operations following this incident. Veracruz is the site of a planned gathering of prosecutors from across Mexico this week.