8 bodies found in plastic bags in southern Mexico

By MANUEL DE LA CRUZ, The Associated Press 9:06 p.m. December 23, 2008

TUXTLA GUTIERREZ, Mexico — Eight bodies were found stuffed in plastic garbage bags and dumped on a rural road near the Guatemalan border in an area plagued by drug violence, authorities in southern Chiapas state said Tuesday.

The victims have yet to be identified, but police believe they may include Mexicans, Guatemalans or Colombians.

A state Justice Department official who was not authorized to be quoted by name said the bodies were discovered by a farmer. At least one had bruises and marks indicating he may have been tortured.

The bodies were found near the town of Tuxtla Chico, about 55 miles (90 kilometers) south of another border settlement where Mexican and Guatemalan drug traffickers engaged in a series of gunbattles that killed 17 people last month.

Brutal slayings by drug cartels are on the rise in Mexico, and officials estimate that more than 5,300 people have died in organized crime-related slayings this year.

On Sunday, the decapitated bodies of eight army soldiers were found along an urban boulevard in the southern state of Guerrero.
In a press statement on Tuesday, Mexico's Defense Department slammed what it called "inappropriate and hurtful" comments on the soldiers' deaths.

While the department did not specify what had offended it, one Mexican newspaper ran an editorial cartoon Tuesday titled "December Decorations" that showed the hand of a drug trafficker hanging severed heads with military-style haircuts on a Christmas tree as if they were ornaments.

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