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Cartel video shows gunmen shooting, kicking and burning bodies of enemies, Mexican police confirm

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Investigators in Mexico said they have largely confirmed the contents of a grisly drug cartel video showing gunmen shooting, kicking and burning the corpses of their enemies. In a country where videos of decapitations and executions have appeared on social media before, the video released Tuesday was still chilling.

A squad of whooping, cursing gunmen can be seen on a wooded mountainside, standing over the bullet-ridden bodies of their rivals. They then kick and abuse the corpses, shoot them repeatedly, strip some and drag them to an improvised pyre and set them on fire.

Some of the dead gunmen appeared to have made a last stand inside a low, circular pile of stones. Drug cartels in Mexico frequently make videos of dead or captured gang members to intimidate or threaten rivals.

Prosecutors in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero said late Tuesday they had reached the remote scene of the crime in the mountain township of Totolapan and found five charred bodies.  It said the bodies were transferred to the state forensic medical service.

However, at least 15 bodies can be seen in the video. Before they are set alight, one gunmen gleefully sits atop the tangled pile, laughing and stomping on the dead.

Most of the dead - like the living cartel gunmen seen in the video - were wearing military-style green or camouflage shirts with ammunition belts.

It was not clear why investigators only found five bodies. The others may have been removed or completely destroyed.

Prosecutors did not identify the gangs involved in the confrontation, but local media said the dead men may have belonged to the hyper violent Familia Michoacana cartel, while the victors were apparently members of a gang known as the Tlacos, after the nearby town of Tlacotepec.

The two gangs have been fighting for years to control the remote mountain towns in Guerrero, where mining, logging and opium poppy production are the main industries.

In October 2020 an attack by a criminal group in the same area on the local city hall left 20 dead, including the mayor and his father.

Guerrero, one of the most violent and impoverished states in the country, has recently seen several clashes between criminal cells involved in drug trafficking and production, kidnapping and extortion.  Last month, an alleged cartel attack in Guerrero killed at least six people and injured 13 others.

It is not unusual for drug cartels to carry off their own dead, and destroy the bodies of their rivals, by burying them in shallow graves, burning or dissolving them in caustic substances.

In the neighboring state of Michoacan, prosecutors reported they had found the bodies of seven men and four women in shallow, clandestine burial pits near the state capital, Morelia. The bodies were badly decomposed and were taken for laboratory tests to determine their identities.

Mexico has recorded more than 420,000 murders and tens of thousands of missing persons since the end of 2006, when then-president Felipe Calderon launched a controversial anti-drug military campaign.

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