It’s the sort of grisly finding that seems to happen nearly every week in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero: A drug gang’s camp where a kidnapping victim was rescued, body parts were found in a cooler and the remains of seven bodies were extracted from clandestine burial pits.
The discovery was made by police and soldiers on Monday afternoon, according to ACN, a news agency in Guerrero, where rival drug gangs have been engaged in a wave of extortion, kidnappings and turf battles.
Roberto Alvarez, the Guerrero state security spokesman said a joint-army police patrol received a tip that people were being held at a rural encampment close to a mountain known as Cerro Boludo, near the violence-plagued town of Chilapa.
The patrol went to investigate, found the camp and freed a kidnapped man. They found no suspects, but did find three vehicles, including a Chevy Suburban, magazines for AR-15 and AK-47 assault rifles and a cooler with five human heads.
In the area around the camp, they found clandestine graves where the remains of seven bodies were recovered, according to ACN.
Drug gangs frequently decapitate their victims and put their heads in coolers.
Army troops cordoned off the area and investigators were working to identify the bodies.
Survivors have testified in the past that criminal gangs in Guerrero sometimes operate rural camps where they hold, torture and kill kidnap victims.
Guerrero has seen an upsurge in gang-related violence. In recent days, groups of dismembered or decapitated bodies have been found dumped on roadsides in different parts of the state.
In response, the government announced Monday that it is stepping up the use of joint police-army patrols in areas known to be particularly violent.
The largely rural, impoverished state had 1,832 reported homicides in the first ten months of 2016. If that rate continues unabated, Guerrero would be on track to have a homicide rate of about 60 per 100,000. That would rival the recent peak year of violence in the state, in 2012, when there were about 68 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.
Includes reporting by the Associated Press.