A stronger police presence has followed the massacre in Las Choapas. A stronger police presence has followed the massacre in Las Choapas.

Local official, self-defense force chief among 12 shot and killed in Veracruz

Their bodies were found on the roadside in Las Choapas

Twelve men were found shot dead execution-style in southeastern Veracruz Sunday night, among whom were a self-defense group leader and a municipal official.

The bodies were found on a rural stretch of road in a community in the municipality of Las Choapas, authorities said.

Among the victims found bound and gagged and with visible signs of torture were a man said to be the 60-year-old leader of a self-defense group from Cerro de Nanchital, located in Las Choapas, and Isidro García Morales, the local municipal agent.

Police found ammunition shells indicating that an AK-47 and other high-caliber weapons were used in the killings. Unidentified police sources told the newspaper Al Calor Político that the victims were killed in one community of Las Choapas and then dumped on the roadway in another.

Various unconfirmed versions of events reported in different local media suggest that the root of the killings was over a kidnapping. However, details from there vary.

The most detailed version of events reported attributed the killings to a dispute between two self-defense groups — one from a town in Las Choapas and one from a town in the neighboring municipality of Minatitlán.

According to this account, the victims themselves had previously kidnapped a person identified as a member of the Minatitlan self-defense group on Sunday afternoon, prompting the aggrieved group to take retribution, kidnapping the 12 victims found Sunday, using a convoy of at least 20 vehicles.

Another version reported in local media claimed that the dispute was between a gang that had kidnapped the young son of a local rancher and a self-defense group that had tried to rescue him.

The southeastern corner of Veracruz is considered one of the most dangerous in the state due to the presence of various criminal groups fighting for control over the area, which borders Tabasco, Chiapas, and Oaxaca. Self-defense groups exist in the region as a result.

Sources: Al Calor Político (sp), Presencia (sp), López-Dóriga (sp), Reporte Indigo (sp)

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