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23 KILLED IN DAY OF DRUG WARS HORROR FOR MEXICO BORDER


NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico: The northern Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo saw a brutal day of gang violence on Friday, with 14 headless bodies found stuffed in a vehicle and nine bodies found hanging from a bridge.
The gruesome crimes came less than two months before Mexico's presidential election, and just ahead of a key weekend debate between the leading candidates, during which security policy is likely to be a key issue.
Horrified motorists in Nuevo Laredo - across the river border from Laredo, Texas - came upon the blood-stained bodies of four women and five men hanging off a bridge, along with an apparent message from a drug gang.
  • Police then discovered the 14 headless bodies in a vehicle parked in front of the Association of Customs Agents on one of the city's main avenues. The 14 heads were found in ice boxes outside the city hall.
  • The grim spectacles were extreme even for Nuevo Laredo, a city of nearly 400,000 in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, which has seen some of the most gruesome episodes in Mexico's brutal five-and-a-half year drug war.
  • State security forces and soldiers cordoned off the areas where the bodies were found and made no immediate comment.
  • Nuevo Laredo is regularly the scene of vicious disputes between the Zetas drug gang - set up in the 1990s by Mexican ex-elite soldiers - and their former employers, the Gulf cartel, now believed to be allied to the Sinaloa cartel of billionaire fugitive Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.
  • The city is a key site for smuggling illegal narcotics into the United States: around 40 percent of the land cargo heading north, much of it from the industrial city of Monterrey, funnels through Nuevo Laredo.
  • Last month, the dismembered remains of 14 men were found inside a van left near
Nuevo Laredo city hall. Days later a car exploded outside police headquarters.
More than 50,000 people have been killed in Mexico's war on drugs since December 2006, when outgoing President Felipe Calderon launched a nationwide military crackdown on organized crime. Most of the deaths have been from turf battles between rival gangs.
Source: Agency, AFP
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