Soldiers detain man linked to Mexico mass graves

Forensic personnel unload the bodies of people killed execution-style in Matamoros, Tamaulipas State, Mexico, April, 11, 2011. STR/AFP/Getty Images

MEXICO CITY — Soldiers have detained an alleged hit man who is accused of kidnapping bus passengers, killing them and burying them in mass graves in northern Mexico, authorities said Thursday.

Abraham Barrios Caporal, 26, was captured in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz and has acknowledged working for the Zetas drug cartel, Mexico's Defense Department said in a statement.

Barrios Caporal is suspected of taking part in the killings of bus passengers and their burial in clandestine graves at a ranch in the town of San Fernando in Tamaulipas state, the department said.

He was arrested in the city of Coatzacoalcos Tuesday along with three other members of his cell, said army spokesman, Col. Ricardo Trevilla.

Authorities in Tamaulipas began uncovering bodies in mass graves in early April following reports that passengers were being pulled off buses at gunpoint.

As of early June, 193 bodies had been found in 26 graves. Officials say most of those were Mexican migrants heading to the United States who were kidnapped off buses and killed by the Zetas drug cartel.

Barrios Caporal told authorities some of the passengers were kidnapped because were suspected of being members of the rival Gulf cartel.

San Fernando is the same place where 72 Central and South American migrants were slaughtered last August also by the Zetas.

Barrios Caporal is also suspected in that mass killing, the department said.

Mass graves have become an increasingly common discovery in Mexico's brutal drug war, which has claimed more than 35,000 lives since President Felipe Calderon deployed thousands of federal security forces four years ago to fight traffickers. The offensive led to a splintering of the country's cartels and increased gang fighting over territory.

On Thursday, gunmen opened fire during a soccer game in the resort city of Acapulco, killing two people and wounding at least two children who were watching the match.

The victims were city police officers who were playing in a match against Guerrero state government employees, said state police in Guerrero state, where Acapulco is located.

Authorities offered no motives in the killings.

Factions of the Beltran Leyva cartel have been fighting for control of Acapulco since the December 2009 killing of cartel boss Arturo Beltran Leyva.

Comments