In a gruesome discovery, Mexican authorities on Saturday found nineteen badly charred bodies near the county’s border with the United States. State officials in Tamaulipas told reporters that the bodies were discovered by authorities after residents in the nearby town Camargo saw a burning vehicle by a dirt road.
When authorities arrived, they found two burning vehicles, within which there were the remains of some 19 people. There were also several rifles found on the scene. Notably, all nineteen of them had been shot, but no shell casings were found with the burning vehicles. As such, investigators believe they were killed elsewhere before their bodies were driven to the location where the vehicles were set ablaze.
The state’s police issued a statement describing the brutal crime scene. “In one of the vans there were two bodies in the front seats, another body on the side of the driver’s door, one more on the side of the passenger door and 15 bodies in the back of the vehicle,” the statement reads.
“Initial investigations show that death was caused by firearm projectiles and then [the victims] were set on fire,” authorities noted. One official from Camargo, speaking anonymously, told reporters that the killings occurred on Friday but no one had the courage to report them.
There have been some suggestions that the victims may have been undocumented Guatemalan migrants. Authorities in Tamaulipas have reached out to the Guatemalan government, asking them “to provide the necessary information and try to identify some of the people believed to be Guatemalan migrants.”
The region between Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon, near the US border, are a hotbed for cartel activity. Drug trade into the US has led to a massive increase in violence in the region since the 1980s. The Noreste cartel and the Gulf cartel, who each vie for control of competitive drug routes into Texas, have been known to engage in skirmishes along the border to the two states.
Tamaulipas is on the Gulf Coast and offers migrants seeking to enter America the shortest route into the country. However, it is also the most fraught route, as it is also frequented by drug cartels looking to move their products north. Moreover, in recent years cartels have been known to kidnap, extort and murder migrants, as they are a marginalized minority in Mexico. Due to their migratory status and lack of roots in the region, they are often the victims of violent crimes.