The bloody violence in Mexico continues to ravage the lives of a drug-infused nation. Police say they found 18 dismembered and beheaded bodies inside two vans in an area frequented by tourists near the city of Guadalajara.
According to the Associated Press, Jalisco state Prosecutor Tomas Coronado said in a phone interview that police found 15 severed human heads in the vans a few miles from Lake Chapala and his office confirmed later in a statement that three more heads had been found along with the other body parts.
The drug wars in Mexico have been on the rise in 2012, as these latest murders are the result of a bloody turf battle between the Jalisco New Generation gang, allied with the Sinaloa cartel, and the Zetas drug cartel.
Mexican drug cartels frequently dismember the bodies of their victims or leave them stuffed into vehicles. The gangs also frequently leave hand-written messages alongside their victims' bodies, and Coronado said that such messages were found in the vans:
"They are clearly messages between rival groups that are in conflict," he said.
Coronado added that the killings may have been linked to the abduction of 12 people who later escaped in the same area on Tuesday. A woman who was allegedly watching the captives was detained. She told investigators that the kidnappings were "a repercussion of what happened in Tamaulipas."
Messages were found in Nuevo Laredo threatening the Gulf cartel, which has joined Sinaloa to battle the Zetas. The killings could be part of a wide-ranging, tit-for-tat battle between Sinaloa and the Zetas, in which both sides have been known to massacre dozens of people accused of supporting the rival gang.
The drug violence, kidnappings and murders in Mexico don't seem to slowing down as more and more people are killed on a daily basis.
(Police and forensic technicians stand around one of the vans at the morgue in Guadalajara, Mexico. Photograph: Reuters)