Mexican police found nine bodies hanging from an overpass Thursday alongside a drug cartel banner threatening rivals, and seven more corpses hacked up and dumped by the road nearby. Just down the road were three more bodies, for a total of 19. The killing spree reported by prosecutors in the western state of Michoacan marked a return to the grisly massacres carried out by drug cartels at the height of Mexico's 2006-2012 drug war, when piles of bodies were dumped on roadways as a message to authorities and rival gangs, the AP reports. Two of the bodies hung by ropes from the overpass by their necks, half naked, and one of the dismembered bodies were women, Michoacan Attorney General Adrián López Solís said at a news conference. He said the killings appeared to be part of a cartel turf war.
The victims in the city of Uruapan had been shot to death. Some were hung with their hands bound, some with their pants pulled down. While the banner was not completely legible, it bore the initials of the notoriously violent Jalisco drug cartel, and mentioned the Viagras, a rival gang. "Be a patriot, kill a Viagra," the banner read in part. "This kind of public, theatrical violence, where you don't just kill, but you brag about killing, is meant to intimidate rivals and send a message to the authorities," says Mexico security analyst Alejandro Hope. Meanwhile, in another part of Mexico, an angry crowd beat and hanged seven suspected kidnappers, leaving some of their bodies dangling from trees, the national Human Rights Commission said Thursday. The Puebla state government says police and soldiers were sent to the area to try to stop the attack, but villagers kept them from intervening. (This year is on course to be Mexico's worst-ever for murders.)