Nearly three dozen bodies and nine human heads were found in clandestine graves in southern Mexico, where rival drug gangs have been engaged in a wave of extortion, kidnappings and turf battles, authorities said Thursday.
The graves of 31 men and one woman were found at an outlaw camp in Guerrero state after authorities received an anonymous tip that people were being held near a mountain in the municipality of Zitlala.
A kidnapping victim was rescued, and the remains were found in 17 different pits as authorities continue the search for more graves.
Nearly three dozen bodies and nine human heads were found in clandestine graves in the Mexican state of Guerrero (pictured, investigators working in Zitala, Mexico)
Residents reported a foul smell, and soldiers went to the site in Zitala after they received a tip about people being held hostage (pictured, file photo)
Residents reported a foul smell, and soldiers went to the site in Zitala after they received a tip about people being held hostage, according to ITV.
Soldiers and police arrived on the scene to find a kidnapping victim, along with bulletproof vests, AK-47s, magazines, several vehicles, and a cooler with five heads inside, according to El Universal reported.
Twelve bodies and other human remains were found in coolers, before further excavations of the site led to the discovery of a total of 32 bodies and nine heads.
Investigators have taken the remains to state capital of Chilpancingo in an effort to identify the bodies. No arrests have been made so far.
Residents of the community of Tixtla, Guerrero found nine decapitated bodies on Monday along a highway.
Drug gangs frequently decapitate their victims and prosecutors are looking into whether the nine heads found in Zitlala correspond to the bodies found on Monday.
Roberto Alvarez Heredia, spokesman for the Guerrero Coordinating Group, said soldiers were still combing the area to see if there were any more graves.
Guerrero, a region known for opium, has seen an upsurge in gang-related violence as the price of poppies has increased internationally
Guerrero, a region known for opium, has seen an upsurge in gang-related violence, with at least 24 deaths in the state just last weekend, according to Sky News.
A Guerrero state security spokesman told the news channel drug cartels were fighting while the price of poppies has increased internationally.
The government announced on 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 10 months of 2016.
If that rate continues, Guerrero will be on track to have a homicide rate of about 60 per 100,000, rivaling highs in 2012, when there were about 68 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.