At least 20 people have been found dead near the US-Mexico border in Texas, with Mexican officials blaming a dispute between rival gangs.
Out of the bodies found, 17 of them have extensive burns an unnamed security official. Another unnamed official quoted by the Associated Press said 21 bodies were found near a number of fire-damaged vehicles.
Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the killings appear to have been part of a dispute between gangs.
The bodies were found in Miguel Aleman in Tamaulipas, a state known for major drug shipments passing through. The area around Miguel Aleman had been long-dominated by the Zetas drug cartel, who had been locked in a battle with the Gulf cartel for control of the various local criminal enterprises.
Hundreds of bodies have been found in recent years, many of which have been dumped in mass unmarked graves.
The Zetas cartel has since splintered, and the deaths in Miguel Aleman appear to have resulted from a dispute between the Gulf cartel and one of the Zetas factions, the Northeast cartel.
Despite the Mexico government’s successes in killing and capturing major drug cartel leaders since it launched a US-sponsored war against drug cartels in 2006, violence persists. The Congressional Research Service estimates that about 150,000 people have been killed in gang-related violence since 2006.
The highest homicide rate was recorded in 2017 with almost 29,000 people murdered in Mexico. However, it is expected that the 2018 statistics will see that record broken. In the first half of last year, Mexico saw a 16 per cent jump in homicide rates from the same period in 2017.
Border security has become a major concern for the White House since Donald Trump was inaugurated in 2016. Mr Trump has repeatedly disparaged migrants and asylum seekers as a national security threat.
The latest US government shutdown is centred on Mr Trump’s request for $5.7bn in funding for a wall on the Mexico border, which Democrats have said they will not sanction. It is part of a number of hardline policies the Trump administration has enacted. For exampale, those seeking asylum are forced to remain in Mexico while their application is being reviewed — thus putting them at risk of danger from criminal gangs in the area.
A number of caravans from Central America — a region beset with gang violence as well as drug and human trafficking – have reached the US-Mexico border in recent weeks, some of them containing 1,000 or more people.
According to the Mexican National Human Rights commission, human trafficking can earn these gangs as much as $50 million each year.