Twelve bodies dumped across multiple locations. Eleven alleged criminals arrested. Three presumed cartel members killed in shootouts with police. Twenty-four military-grade weapons seized. At least five highway blockades.
All that happened in the northern border state of Nuevo León in the past two days.
State authorities reported that heads and other body parts of at least 12 male victims were found at seven locations in the metropolitan area of Monterrey on Tuesday. The grisly discoveries were reminiscent of the 2010s when cartel violence plagued the state capital.
Messages left alongside the human remains were signed by the Northeast Cartel, which is based in the neighboring state of Tamaulipas.
“A purge within an organized crime group … due to disloyalty” is believed to be the most likely motive for the murders, according to Nuevo León Security Minister Gerardo Palacios Pámanes.
He said that authorities believed that members of a rival criminal group had infiltrated the Northeast Cartel and were found out.
The general secretary of the Nuevo León government, Javier Navarro, suggested they were members of the Sinaloa Cartel, which is involved in a turf war with the Northeast Cartel in northeastern Mexico.
State Attorney General Pedro Arce said that authorities will review security camera footage to try to identify the people who dumped bags and coolers containing human remains in Monterrey and nearby municipalities that are part of the city’s metropolitan area.
On Wednesday, state authorities carried out operations in the municipalities of General Bravo, Los Aldamas and Doctor Arroyo and arrested 11 presumed criminals, Palacios told a press conference. It was unclear whether the suspects, one of whom was wounded in a shootout with police and admitted to hospital, are members of the Northeast Cartel and linked to the murder of the men whose bodies were dumped on Tuesday.
General Bravo, Los Aldamas and Doctor Arroyo are all on the border with Tamaulipas. The first two are located in eastern Nuevo León while Doctor Arroyo is in the south of the state.
Palacios also reported that three presumed criminals were killed in clashes with police. One death occurred in Los Aldamas and two in Doctor Arroyo. One of the slain men allegedly planned and may have perpetrated the murder of the director of the Linares municipal police in June, he said.
The security minister said that police on Wednesday seized 24 firearms whose use is restricted to the army as well as two grenades and eight vehicles.
One police officer was shot in the leg during the confrontation in Doctor Arroyo. He was admitted to hospital, but discharged on Wednesday night, Palacios reported on X, formerly Twitter.
In addition to clashing with police on patrol, cartel henchmen attacked two police stations, one in Iturbide and another in the neighboring municipality of Linares. No injuries were reported, Palacios said.
Cartel members also set up fiery blockades on the Carretera Nacional (National Highway), which links Monterrey to locations in the south of Nuevo León. Blockades, including ones created by setting hijacked trucks and buses on fire, were set up at at least five locations in the municipalities of Hualahuises, Montemorelos and Linares.
The newspaper Milenio reported that traffic was blocked in both directions due to the blockades, which were set up in the late afternoon. Security forces and firefighters responded and brought the situation under control.
According to Milenio TV, 15 of Nuevo León’s 51 municipalities reported being “under criminal siege” in the past two days. Eight of the municipalities are in the Monterrey metropolitan area and seven are in the south of the state. Murders, confrontations, blockades and other “violent events” occurred in those municipalities, according to Milenio TV.
Palacios said on Wednesday that municipal, state and federal authorities are working together on security challenges in Nuevo León, an industrial powerhouse and a hub for foreign investment.
“And that’s the way we’ll continue,” the security minister said.
“Nuevo León doesn’t have the option of dropping its guard. Nuevo León will never stop doing what is necessary to built lasting peace,” he said.