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August 26th, 2010
Mexican Cartels Gun Down 72

MEXICO CITY—Gunmen from a drug cartel appear to have massacred 72 migrants from Central and South America who were on their way to the U.S., a grisly event that marks the single biggest killing in Mexico's war on organized crime.

Mexican marines discovered the 72 bodies—58 men and 14 women —on Tuesday after the lone survivor of the massacre, stumbled into a Navy checkpoint.

When the marines went to investigate, they were met with a hail of gunfire from cartel gunmen holed up at the ranch, only 90 miles from the U.S. border.

The Ecuadorean migrant told investigators that his captors identified themselves as members of the Zetas drug gang, said Vice Adm. Jose Luis Vergara, a spokesman for the Mexican navy.
Reenforcing the fact organized crime has no limits or moral qualms about what they are prepared to do," Alejandro Poire, head of the government's national-security council.

The incident highlights the extent to which Mexican drug gangs, which used to focus exclusively on ferrying narcotics such as cocaine to the U.S., have diversified into other lucrative criminal activities such as human smuggling and extortion.

At the going rate of $5,000 to $7,000 charged by smugglers to cross the U.S. border, the 72 people represented about $500,000, the gang may have simply killed the migrants after they refused to give them more money than they had already given them, he said.

Mexican officials said they didn't know why the migrants—believed to be from El Salvador, Honduras, Ecuador and Brazil—were killed. Mexican newspapers, citing an unnamed federal official, speculated that the migrants were killed for either refusing to give the drug gang more money to cross the border, or for declining to join the gang's criminal activities as drug couriers, gunmen or prostitutes.
Last month, another 51 bodies were found near a trash dump outside the northern city of Monterrey.

Both of those mass graves were sites where drug gangs disposed of rivals killed during a period of weeks or months.

This latest incident could be the single biggest instance of bloodshed from a Mexican cartel to date, experts said.
 


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