HomeTop Headlines18 People Found Murdered in Two Days

18 People Found Murdered in Two Days

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Violence linked to drug cartels in Zacatecas, Mexico has resulted in 18 deaths this past week. Authorities discovered the bodies in the towns of Morelos and Fresnillo on two successive days. The deaths are believed to be retaliation for the killing of a Sinaloa cartel leader and the arrest of 26 of its members.

Zacatecas, where Morelos and Fresnillo are located, is in north-central Mexico, roughly 340 miles south of Eagle Pass, Texas.

On Wednesday, May 8, 2024, nine bodies were found in Morelos, prompting the state prosecutor’s office to initiate an investigation. Just the previous day, another nine bodies were discovered in Fresnillo on a city avenue.

The bodies in Fresnillo, wrapped in blankets and bound with duct tape, were left near a market. Messages directed at a rival criminal organization were found with the bodies. Surveillance footage revealed members of the Sinaloa Cartel discarding some of the victims.

Violence escalated after a Sinaloa cartel leader, known as “El Gordo” and linked to abductions and homicides in Zacatecas, was killed. “The officers responded to the aggression and eliminated the presumptive leader of the cartel in Zacatecas,” said Oscar Alberto Aparicio, Zacatecas Deputy Public Safety Secretary.

Zacatecas is a key drug trafficking location due to its close proximity to the U.S. border. It has one of the highest per capita homicide rates in Mexico, with the Jalisco and Sinaloa cartels engaged in fierce conflicts over territory. The DEA has connected these cartels to the influx of fentanyl affecting the United States.

The U.S. State Department has issued a “Do Not Travel” warning for Zacatecas because of rampant violent crime, extortion, and gang activity. The advisory also warns Americans about the high risk of kidnapping in the state.

In previous incidents in Zacatecas, a team searching for seven abducted youths found six bodies and one survivor last year. In Christmas 2022, a U.S. resident was among four individuals killed. Earlier that year, the bodies of five men and one woman were left on a roadside, and the bodies of eight men and two women were found in a pickup truck near a Christmas tree in the state capital.

Violence continues to plague Zacatecas in 2024, with 203 homicides reported in the first quarter of the year. Governor David Monreal deployed 1,000 National Guard and army troops to Zacatecas. He insisted that traffic was flowing smoothly and described the violence as “a reaction, a consequence of police activity against the cartel leadership.”

The recent spate of killings underscores the challenges that Mexican authorities face in controlling cartel violence. Despite President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s “hugs, not bullets” strategy, Zacatecas remains embroiled in deadly cartel conflicts. López Obrador’s strategy emphasizes addressing the root causes of crime, such as poverty and lack of opportunities, through social programs and economic development initiatives. Despite criticism and doubt about its effectiveness, López Obrador has consistently advocated for this strategy, prioritizing dialogue and social programs over military action. The president’s tenure has seen both support and criticism for his policy, with ongoing challenges in Mexico’s fight against cartels.

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