Body parts found in coolers on Mexico’s Gulf Coast waiting to be identified

The Associated Press reported Monday that vehicles with coolers containing mutilated bodies were left on a bridge near Veracruz, on Mexico’s Gulf coast.

The number of victims is unknown, pending laboratory tests by investigators. A banner found near the scene suggested a cartel connection, linking the crime to Grupo Sombra and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel or “CJNG.”

The Veracruz state interior department said the news would not disturb public order, according to the AP.

Here is some information about the gruesome discovery near Mexico’s Gulf Coast:

What did the authorities discover?

On Sunday, two trucks with Styrofoam coolers holding severed body parts of an “undetermined number” of people were found in the City of Tuxpan.

The AP said that one of the trucks had a printed banner on its side, with some of the body parts inside. The banner read, “Guatemalans, stop believing in Grupo Sombra, and stay in your hometowns” and claimed responsibility for the crime on behalf of CJNG. This led the investigators to think that the victims were Guatemalans.

Why do the officials think cartels are involved?

The banner on the truck seemed to target Guatemalans, which made the Veracruz State Interior Department believe that the killings were a result of a “score-settling” between Grupo Sombra and CJNG.

The conflict between Grupo Sombra and CJNG began when CJNG expanded into Veracruz, causing 14 deaths in the town of Minatitlán, as reported by the Insight Crime website. Investigators think that Grupo Sombra is fighting CJNG for control of northern Veracruz.

The AP also reported that some cartels, especially CJNG, have recruited Guatemalans as hitmen. They often look for former “Kaibiles” — the elite unit of the Guatemalan army with the motto: “If I advance, follow me. If I stop, urge me on. If I retreat, kill me.”

Time Magazine wrote about how former Los Kaibiles took part in the “massacre and beheading of 27 peasants” in 1982. Around 250 people in Dos Erres were killed and dumped into a dry well or a nearby field, according to the National Security Archive website.

What is Grupo Sombra?

Grupo Sombra is a cartel that split from the Gulf Cartel. The Gulf Cartel dominated the border cities of Matamoros and Reynosa, which faced high levels of violence when the Mexican government tried to capture Gulf Cartel leaders in these cities, according to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Grupo Sombra emerged from the Gulf Cartel division and claimed some areas as their “territories.”

In a 2019 article from the City of Xalapa, the cartel warned rival gangs to respect “not to enter the towns they control” in north Veracruz. Authorities said they found a dismembered man’s body. The article also said that Grupo Combra has clashed with hitmen from CJNG and Los Zetas.

Who is the Jalisco New Generation Cartel?

The Jalisco New Generation Cartel or “CJNG” is one of the biggest cartels that originated from the former name “Los Mata Zetas.” Based in Jalisco, the cartel gained power from bold intimidation and cruelty, aided by aggressive propaganda, according to the Bookings Institute website.

Defense Secretary Luis Crecencio Sandoval claimed five rocket launchers have been found in the possession of CJNG, and other cartels, PBS reported. This led to Mexico calling for an investigation into the U.S. military-grade weapons increasingly being found within cartels.

The State of Veracruz

Veracruz had been one of Mexico’s most violent states when the old Zetas cartel was fighting rivals there, and it continues to see killings linked to the Gulf cartel and other gangs, the AP reported. The state has one of the country’s highest numbers of clandestine body dumping grounds, where the cartels dispose of their victims.

Source: Huston Chronicles