Culiacan – The number of bodies found in the northwestern Mexican state of Sinaloa has risen to 24, the Government Secretariat said.
Police found 17 charred bodies inside two vehicles in downtown Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa, on Wednesday, the secretariat said.
Four bodies were found a few hours later in Calomatillo, a town outside the city of Mocorito, and three bodies were discovered in the city of Salvador Alvarado.
Twelve bodies were found in Culiacan inside a Nissan SUV that had been torched, the Sinaloa state Attorney General's Office said.
The municipal police and firefighters who pulled the bodies of the 11 men and one woman out of the vehicle found that wood had been piled on the cadavers, the AG's office said.
The victims were handcuffed and some of them had been kidnapped in Angostura, a city in the northern part of the state, Sinaloa Attorney General Marco Antonio Higuera Gomez said.
An anonymous caller told police that a Ford Ranger SUV parked near a shopping center in the northern section of Culiacan contained more bodies.
Officers found five more burned bodies inside the pick-up truck, officials said.
The victims have not been identified, but the discovery of the bodies came in the wake of reports that nine people had been kidnapped in Angostura.
Drug cartels often kidnap people and dump their bodies somewhere a few days later without ever demanding ransom.
Specialists "will help us identify the victims and in the investigation to determine who was responsible for these multiple murders," Higuera Gomez said.
Sinaloa is home to the drug cartel led by Joaquin "El Chapo" (Shorty) Guzman, who was arrested in Guatemala in 1993 and pulled off a Hollywood-style jailbreak when he escaped from the Puente Grande maximum-security prison in the western state of Jalisco on Jan. 19, 2001.
The Sinaloa organization, sometimes referred to by officials as the Pacific cartel, is the oldest drug cartel in Mexico and Guzman, considered extremely violent, is one of the most-wanted criminals in Mexico and the United States, where the Drug Enforcement Administration has offered a reward of $5 million for him.
Sinaloa, the birthplace of many of Mexico's drug lords, is currently the scene of a bloody turf war between Guzman and the Beltran Leyva cartel, which arose as a splinter group of the Sinaloa organization.