Crime and Violence

49 Decapitated Bodies Found In Nuevo León

05/14/12- Adding to a recent string of gruesome discoveries in Mexico over the past few weeks, Mexican officials found 49 bodies–43 male and six female–on the side of a highway outside of Monterrey, Nuevo León early Sunday morning, sources say. The bodies were decapitated and severely dismembered, a tactic that according to Nuevo León State Prosecutor Adrián de la Garza is meant to inhibit forensic scientists from readily identifying the victims. Without being able to identify the bodies, authorities say that there is no way to know whether the victims were Mexican citizens or migrants, if they were associated with a particular cartel, or when they were actually killed. The State Prosecutor suggested that some of the victims may be migrants from Central America or from different states within Mexico given that no disappearances have been reported in the last few days within Nuevo León, especially not in this quantity.

Photo: AFP

The violence seen in Nuevo León since 2010 is the product of a turf war between two of the major cartels in Mexico, the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas. Both groups are fighting for and competing to control lucrative trafficking routes along Mexico’s border with Texas. Recently, the Sinaloa Cartel has also become involved, which has added to the violence and instability. The “war” between the cartels can be described as more psychological than it is tactical, as the violence between groups serves to assert reputation, intimidate, and cause fear. The killings discovered on Sunday, May 13 have been claimed by the Zetas, as two messages left at the scene indicated–one a narco-banner (narcomanta) that authorities found, and the other being the “Z 100%” tag pictured here.

Unfortunately, in the last few weeks there have been multiple discoveries of large quantities of dead bodies in Mexico. Early this month, officials discovered 23 bodies, 14 of which were decapitated, and nine of which were hung from a bridge in the state of Tamaulipas. (To read the full story click here). Four days later, 18 bodies were found packed in vans on the side of a highway outside of Guadalajara. (To read the full story click here). In many ways, it appears that violence is increasing in areas that have been known for their tranquility in recent years. Yet cities like Ciudad Juárez, on the other hand, have seen uncharacteristic peace in recent weeks. In the last four and a half years, Ciudad Juárez has fallen victim to upwards of 10,000 deaths, giving it a reputation as one of the most–if not the most–dangerous cities in the world. On Sunday, the city celebrated its fourteenth consecutive day without reporting a single homicide.

The discovery of these 49 bodies in Nuevo León comes just days after the spokeswoman for President Felipe Calderón, Alejandra Sota, claimed that the state was a prime example of how criminal activity could be reduced throughout Mexico. Her statement was made in conjunction with the extension of the ‘Secure Nuevo León’ Plan, which stipulates that federal forces will remain in the state until at least November of this year.

The Secretary of the Interior (Secretaría de Gobernación, Segob) assured the Mexican public that those responsible for the brutal Nuevo León incident will be brought to justice. According to Segob, the federal government is conducting investigations.


de los Reyes, Ignacio. “Lo que hay detrás de la barbarie en México.” BBC Mundo. May 12, 2012.

“Autoridades investigan si cadáveres encontrados en NL son de migrantes.” CNN México. May 13, 2012.

“Zetas se atribuyen feroz matanza de 49 personas.” Terra. May 13, 2012.

3 thoughts on “49 Decapitated Bodies Found In Nuevo León”

  1. Pingback: Zetas call on authorities to investigate NL massacre, deny responsibility « Justice in Mexico

  2. Pingback: Article analyzes ‘narco-propaganda’ in a month filled with such messages « Justice in Mexico

  3. Pingback: Continued Attacks on News Outlets Plague Monterrey « Justice in Mexico

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