On September 20, 2011, a shocking scene unfolded in front of civilians, as alleged drug traffickers emptied two truck-loads of bodies in downtown Boca del Rio in Veracruz. Thirty-five bodies in total were found lying on a main avenue running near the city’s biggest shopping mall while armed gunman stood guard at the corners surrounding the scene to prevent bystanders and law enforcement officials from approaching.
Drug violence in Veracruz continues to escalate due to the fact that the state is a common, and rather important, site for drug trafficking and a prominent passage for Central American migrants. Currently, Los Zetas is considered by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to be the most violent and powerful drug cartel in Mexico. Los Zetas are said to be engaged in one of the bloodiest drug gang wars, vying for control of the region and therefore, are suspected to have a hand in this latest display of drug-related violence.
So far, police have identified seven of the victims, all having been found to have prior convictions on their records for murder, kidnapping, drug dealing, and links to organized crime. Of the thirty-five victims, twelve were women. Some of the male victims were identified as prisoners who escaped from three Veracruz prisons on September 19.
While other drug cartels are under investigation since Tuesday’s dumping, the number of victims claimed by drug-related violence continues to climb and is estimated to have reached at least 35,000 lives. Training camps for drug cartels are popping up in various towns within Veracruz, with a recruiting basis heavily concentrated toward minors. These camps have at their disposal weapons and military uniforms.
Drug cartels, like Los Zetas, have managed to make their way into the United States, specifically in Texas. However, most of the drug-related violence continues to take place south of the border, as rival drug cartels seek to gain regional control and combat the Mexican government’s efforts to suppress drug trafficking.