The bodies of 43 men and six women were found dumped on an isolated stretch of highway 180 kilometers from the US border in the early hours of Sunday morning, according to the BBC.
They appear to be the latest in a series of violent killings linked to rival drug cartels. A state security spokesman told the Associated Press that a banner found at the site left a threatening message in the name of the Zetas drug cartel. Attorney General Adrian de la Garza said the victims could have been killed as long as two days ago at another location.
Tens of thousands of people have died in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon deployed the army to shut down the gangs in 2006. However, suspected drug cartel violence has been particularly high this month, with scores of deaths attributed to massacres and battles with security forces.
According to the Agence France Presse, much of the violence is blamed on clashes between the Zetas – a gang set up by ex-commandos that deserted in the 1990s – and groups aligned with the Sinaloa Federation of Mexican drug king Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
Earlier this month the bodies of 23 people were found hanging from a bridge or dismembered in ice boxes and garbage bags in the northeastern border of Nuevo Laredo, while on Wednesday police uncovered at least a dozen decapitated and dismembered bodies near Guadalajara.