Watch CBS News

18 bodies found in Mexico state plagued by cartel violence, including 9 left with messages attached

How Americans are arming Mexican cartels
New documentary examines how Americans are arming Mexican cartels 06:49

Nine bodies were found Wednesday in a northern Mexican state reeling from a wave of drug cartel-related violence, authorities said, in the second such discovery in as many days.  A homicide investigation was launched after the bodies of nine men were found in the city of Morelos in Zacatecas, the state prosecutor's office said.

It came just one day after nine bodies were found on an avenue in the city of Fresnillo, also in Zacatecas state. Messages addressed to a criminal group were found with those remains, authorities said. The bodies were dumped near a market two days after gang members blocked roads and burned vehicles in response to the capture of 13 suspected criminals. A pickup truck was being examined for evidence, officials said.

The state prosecutor's office said five of the victims in Fresnillo had been identified and their bodies handed over to relatives.

Members of the investigative police stand next to bodies wrapped in blankets and covered with duct tape left by unknown persons on a street in Fresnillo, Zacatecas, Mexico, May 7, 2024. JESUS ENRIQUEZ/AFP/Getty

Fresnillo is considered by its residents to be the most dangerous city in Mexico. 

Around 450,000 people have been murdered across the country since 2006, when the government launched a controversial anti-drug offensive involving the military, according to official figures.

Cartel activity and violence in Zacatecas

Zacatecas, which has one of the highest per-capita homicide rates of any Mexican state, is a key transit point for drugs, especially the powerful synthetic painkiller fentanyl, moving north to the U.S. border. 

Zacatecas has been the scene of bloody turf battles between the Jalisco and Sinaloa drug cartels. The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration told CBS News in 2022 that the two cartels were behind the influx of fentanyl that's killing tens of thousands of Americans.  

Last September, a search team looking for seven kidnapped youths in Zacatecas found six bodies and one survivor in a remote area.

Authorities in Zacatecas confirmed that a U.S. resident was among four people killed in the state around Christmas 2022. Earlier that year the bodies of five men and one woman were found dumped on a roadside in Zacatecas, and the bodies of eight men and two women were found crammed into a pickup truck left near a Christmas tree in the main plaza of the state capital.

The U.S. State Department has issued a "do not travel" advisory for Zacatecas, warning Americans to avoid the state due to the threat of crime. 

"Violent crime, extortion, and gang activity are widespread in Zacatecas state," the advisory says.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.