Mexican Police Confirm Grisly Gang Video Showing Bodies Kicked, Burned and Shot

Members of the Mexican Army guard the area where six people were killed in an attack, resulting in two more people being injured, in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco State, Mexico, on Feb. 18, 2024. PHOTO BY ULISES RUIZ /AFP via Getty Images

Authorities in Mexico said Wednesday they have largely confirmed the contents of a grisly drug cartel video showing gunmen shooting, kicking and burning the corpses of their enemies.

In a country where videos of decapitations and executions have appeared on social media before, the video released Tuesday was still chilling.

A squad of whooping, cursing gunmen can be seen on a wooded mountainside, standing over the bullet-ridden bodies of their rivals. They then kick and abuse the corpses, shoot them repeatedly, strip some and drag them to an improvised pyre and set them on fire.

Some of the dead gunmen appeared to have made a last stand inside a low, circular pile of stones. Drug cartels in Mexico frequently make videos of dead or captured gang members to intimidate or threaten rivals.

Prosecutors in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero said late Tuesday they had reached the remote scene of the crime in the mountain township of Totolapan and found five charred bodies.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Wednesday that a total of a dozen bodies had been found so far.

“It appears, pending further investigation, it was a confrontation between two criminal gangs,” López Obrador said.

However, at least 15 bodies can be seen in the video. Before they are set alight, one gunman gleefully sits atop the tangled pile, laughing and stomping on the dead.

Most of the dead — like the living cartel gunmen seen in the video — were wearing military-style green or camouflage shirts with ammunition belts.

It was not clear why investigators only found a dozen bodies. The others may have been removed or completely destroyed.

Prosecutors did not identify the gangs involved in the confrontation, but local media said the dead men may have belonged to the hyper violent Familia Michoacana cartel, while the victors were apparently members of a gang known as the Tlacos, after the nearby town of Tlacotepec.

The two gangs have been fighting for years to control the remote mountain towns in Guerrero, where mining, logging and opium poppy production are the main industries.

It is not unusual for drug cartels to carry off their own dead, and destroy the bodies of their rivals, by burying them in shallow graves, burning or dissolving them in caustic substances.

In the neighboring state of Michoacán, prosecutors reported they had found the bodies of seven men and four women in shallow, clandestine burial pits near the state capital, Morelia. The bodies were badly decomposed and were taken for laboratory tests to determine their identities.

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