Mexican authorities found the seventy-two bodies after a 19-year old Ecuadorian man who survived the massacre found his way to a regional military base. The teen – who was shot in the face – says he was able to escape because the gunmen believed he was dead. The victims, which include 14 women, are thought to be migrants from Brazil, Ecuador, Honduras, and El Salvador who were on their way to the United States. Consular officials from the respective countries are in the region to begin the work of identifying the bodies.
The sole survivor of the massacre says the perpetrators were organized criminals who were holding the migrants hostage. The former armed-wing of the Gulf Cartel, the Zetas, branched into migrant smuggling, kidnapping, and human trafficking a few years ago and have a significant presence in the state of Tamaulipas, where the murders occurred.
Violence against migrants crossing though Mexico is routine. Hundreds of Central Americans have disappeared in Mexican territory in the past decade and are presumed dead.
If all of the 72 victims were killed in a single event, as survivor testimony suggests, it will qualify as Mexico’s largest massacre in more than 40 years.