The gruesome discovery of 32 bodies in houses in the Mexican port city of Veracruz this week is the latest sign that the country’s drug-fueled violence is entering a new phase in which murky paramilitary-style squads are carrying out mass exterminations, McClatchy Newspapers report. A spokesman for Mexico’s marines said troops had arrested eight suspected members of a squad known as “Zeta Killers” and that their confessions led troops to three houses where they discovered the bodies.
It was the latest ghastly event to send shudders through Veracruz. Two weeks ago, gunmen dumped 35 semi-nude, mutilated bodies along a freeway underpass in broad daylight. Authorities said at least some of the victims in both instances were members of Los Zetas, a violent crime group whose reach now stretches beyond Mexico’s borders. Opponents of President Felipe Calderon, whose policies have been widely criticized for failing to curb, or perhaps even feeding, the violence, say the recent killings indicate the emergence of paramilitary vengeance squads. Veracruz, the nation’s largest and oldest port, is a key transit point for narcotics, chemicals used to make synthetic drugs, and the movement of migrants toward the U.S. border.