A report of a suspicious vehicle outside the office of a Mexican state governor before dawn on Thursday was the first sign of a trouble. It was not the last. Inside the vehicle, left in a public square still decorated with a Christmas tree, were the bodies of 10 murder victims, eight men and two women. Autopsies carried out on seven of the victims show they died of "asphyxiation by strangulation," the state's chief prosecutor said, per CBS News. One body reportedly showed possible indications of torture. The hands and feet of six victims appeared to have at one point been bound.
Zacatecas Gov. David Monreal said he was starting his workday when he learned of the grisly find in the main plaza of the state capital, also called Zacatecas. "They came to leave them here in front of the palace," he added, referring to the Plaza de Armas government building which contains his offices. "Bodies, apparently beaten, with wounds." A man had driven the vehicle into the plaza before getting out and walking down an alley, the federal Public Safety Department said, per Deutsche Welle. At least two people have since been arrested, per Reuters.
Chief prosecutor Francisco Murillo said three of the five bodies identified so far belonged to individuals previously detained on drug or robbery charges. The Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels are among what the Guardian describes as a "dizzying number of cartels" in the state battling for control of drug smuggling routes to the US, according to reports. While Monreal pointed to major security challenges in Zacatecas, where 1,050 murders were reported last year, he also vowed to reduce the violence. "Bit by bit we will recover our peace. What we received was a cursed inheritance," he said, per Reuters. (Read more Mexico stories.)