XALAPA, Mexico — The dismembered bodies of at least 14 people were found Tuesday in an abandoned pickup truck in the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz, the scene of a violent drug turf war, authorities said.
Alerted by an anonymous call late Monday, authorities found the corpse-laden vehicle parked on a road in the town of Tuxpan near the border with the state of Tamaulipas, the state prosecutor's office said.
"At 7:00 am (1300 GMT) today, forensic experts determined that the remains were those of 14 people," it said in a statement.
Local media quoted witnesses as saying the victims were mostly men in their 20s whose dismembered body parts had been stuffed into bags.
A message found at the site suggested the killings were linked to strife within the Zetas drug gang, created by elite anti-drug commandos who deserted and went to work for the Gulf cartel in the mid-1990s as hired guns. They later split to form their own cartel.
The northern border state of Tamaulipas is a stronghold of the Zetas, who been locked in conflict with both the Sinaloa cartel and the Gulf cartel.
The grisly find on Tuesday reflects a growing trend -- the numbers of homicides of this nature have soared since early 2011, with bodies often dumped in public places.
On June 7, 14 dismembered bodies were found in an abandoned vehicle, which was illegally parked near city hall in Ciudad Mante in northeastern Mexico.
On May 4, 14 mutilated bodies were discovered in the Tamaulipas city of Nuevo Laredo, on the border with Laredo, Texas. Earlier that day, nine bodies had been found hanging from an overpass in Nuevo Laredo.
Nuevo Laredo and the roads leading to the border town are key smuggling routes, as 40 percent of all cargo crossing northbound into the United States from Mexico goes through the city.
Last September, meanwhile, 35 bodies were left dumped in trucks in broad daylight in a heavily used road in the port of Veracruz, just before the start of a conference of prosecutors from around the country.
More than 50,000 people have been killed since President Felipe Calderon launched a tough military crackdown on criminal groups in December 2006, most in battles between rival cartels.