Mexican authorities have found 30 bodies in another mass grave, this one in the northern state of Durango, according to the BBC.Investigators said yesterday they are looking for more bodies.
Durango is part of the ‘Golden Triangle’ of northern states that has been the battleground of a violent turf war between the powerful Sinaloa, Gulf and Los Zetas drug trafficking organisations.
The latest gruesome discovery comes as federal agents are still digging up 145 people found buried in mass graves in San Fernando, a quiet farming village in Tamaulipas state, just 80 miles from Brownsville, Texas. The massacre – believed to be one of the largest in Mexico’s drug wars – has been attributed to Los Zetas.
In Tamaulipas Wednesday, federal agents said they rescued 68 people, including 12 Central American migrants – in the border city of Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas. Some of the victims said they had been kidnapped from the highway by the Gulf Cartel.
Mexican drug cartels have been known to use mass graves to dispose of executed rivals. Many of those buried or rescued in Tamaulipas, however, are believed to be travellers kidnapped along Highway 101, Mexico’s ‘Highway of Death’ that runs from Brownsville to Guatemala. Although past kidnappings have typically been for ransoms, authorities believe the cartels may be starting to abduct people for forced recruitment.
The need to kidnap new recruits indicates that the strain of the drug wars has caused an organizational shift in the cartels, particularly Los Zetas. As Stratfor points out, Zeta recruits are now younger and less experienced than the former special ops forces that founded and joined the gang before 2010. The killing and capture of several high-level Zeta leaders has also resulted in a less experienced cartel leadership, which could be facilitating a breakdown in the cartel’s previous paramilitary-style discipline.