J.J. Green, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - A wave of violence in Mexico has led to a string of gruesome discoveries.
The bodies of nine people were found hanging from a bridge in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, just 6 miles from the U.S. border. Five were men and four women.
Pictures showed the nine bound, gagged and hanged.
A message left with the bodies identified them as members of the Gulf cartel. A rivaling cartel, Los Zetas, is believed to be responsible for the deaths.
All of the victims showed signs of torture. Their hands were tied and their eyes covered, sources tell WTOP.
Mexican authorities say they also discovered 14 headless bodies stuffed into black bags and left inside a van. Fourteen heads were later found outside the mayor's office, preserved in ice boxes.
Mexican military and police authorities are investigating the 23 deaths. U.S. Homeland Security officials are watching the situation carefully because of its proximity to the U.S. and the encroaching violence growing out of the cartel drug wars.
The bodies of three Mexican journalists were discovered Thursday afternoon in the state of Veracruz. They had been dismembered and stuffed into black plastic bags dumped into a waste canal.
At least seven current and former reporters and photographers have been slain in Veracruz over the last 18 months.
More than 50,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon launched a war on cartels, according to the Los Angeles Times. Former Mexican President Vicente Fox recently told the newspaper that the global war on drugs "useless" and an "absolute failure."
(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)