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Cops try to identify those slaughtered

Published:Tuesday | May 15, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Federal police on vehicles escort the three forensic trucks where bodies were placed after dozens of bodies, some of them mutilated, were found on a highway connecting the northern Mexican metropolis of Monterrey to the United States border in the town of San Juan near the city of Monterrey, Mexico, on Sunday. - ap


Authorities struggled yesterday to identify the 49 people found mutilated and scattered in a pool of blood in a region near the United States border where Mexico's two dominant drug cartels are trying to outdo each other in bloodshed while warring over smuggling routes.

The bodies of 43 men and six women with their heads, hands and feet chopped off were dumped at the entrance to the town of San Juan, on a highway that connects the industrial city of Monterrey with Reynosa, across from McAllen, Texas.

At the spot where authorities discovered the bodies before dawn Sunday, a white stone arch that normally welcomes visitors to the town was spray-painted with '100% Zeta' in black letters, an apparent reference to the fearsome Zetas drug cartel that was founded by deserters from the Mexican army's special forces.

Only one couple looking for their missing daughter visited the morgue in Monterrey where autopsies were being performed Sunday, a state police investigator said. Authorities said at least a few of the latest victims had tattoos of the Santa Muerte cult popular among drug traffickers.