Mexico City – The bodies of six men and a woman were found in two neighborhoods of the eastern Mexican port city of Veracruz, where 35 corpses had been dumped earlier this week on a busy avenue.
Witnesses told Efe that four of the bodies discovered Thursday - three men and a woman, all of whom bore signs of torture and were semi-nude - were abandoned in downtown Veracruz's Zaragoza neighborhood.
The other three bodies were found that same day in the Veracruz suburb of Boca del Rio.
Officials, meanwhile, said they had received reports of seven victims, but did not provide further details.
These latest bodies were found two days after an armed commando dumped the corpses of 35 people - 23 men and 12 women - on an avenue in Boca del Rio in broad daylight, with the majority of the victims having been asphyxiated or strangled to death.
The preliminary investigation showed that most of those victims had criminal records "linked to organized crime, such as kidnapping, extortion, homicide, drug dealing, auto theft and home-invasion robberies," Veracruz state Attorney General Reynaldo Escobar said Wednesday.
Some of the victims were members of the notorious Los Zetas cartel who may have been killed by hit men from the rival Gulf mob.
The grisly finds coincided with a nationwide meeting of the nation's top prosecutors and judiciary officials in Boca del Rio to discuss proposals for better coordinating federal, state and local efforts to battle organized crime.
At the start of the gathering, federal Attorney General Marisela Morales denounced the "heinous" killings in Veracruz and stressed the need to "redouble efforts to combat all criminal manifestations."
The government "cannot, must not and never will allow these types of cowardly actions to go unpunished," Morales said, adding that they not only represent a "challenge to authorities but undermine our social structure."
She also referred to drug dealing as "the engine generating violence" in Mexico.
Mexican authorities are analyzing footage from a surveillance camera that shows a group of armed men arriving Tuesday in four vehicles and leaving the 35 bodies - including those of two minors and a police officer - piled inside two pick-up trucks and on the road on a busy avenue in Boca del Rio.
A message threatening Los Zetas, considered Mexico's most violent drug cartel, and its "collaborators" was left on a bed sheet covering the bodies, indicating that the killings may have been a settling of accounts between rival drug gangs.
Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel, as well as some members of La Familia Michoacana, operate in Veracruz, which is on the Gulf of Mexico.
Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, known as "El Lazca," deserted from the Mexican army in 1999 and formed Los Zetas with three other soldiers, all members of an elite special operations unit, becoming the armed wing of the Gulf drug cartel.
After several years on the payroll of the Gulf cartel, Los Zetas went into the drug business on their own account and now control several lucrative territories.
The two cartels have been battling for control of smuggling routes in the United States in several parts of Mexico.
The mass dumping of bodies was the first such incident in the Veracruz metropolitan area, indicating that the violence in the northern part of the like-named state along the borders with Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosi and Hidalgo "has now reached the suburbs" of the port city, Escobar said.
Boca del Rio is the top tourist destination in the Veracruz area and home to some wealthy neighborhoods.