Drug Cartels Left 49 Headless Bodies On A Mexican HighwayS

In the latest Mexican drug cartel massacre, 49 people were found decapitated — and in some cases with limbs torn off — on a stretch of Mexican highway not far from McAllen, Texas.

The bodies had been dumped in a big bloody pile outside the entrance to the town of San Juan, whose white stone archway had been tagged in black with phrase "Z 100%," in reference to the Zetas cartel.

The mass murder appeared to be part of the ongoing war between the rival Sinaloa and Zetas cartels. The mutilated remains of 43 men and six women were found in various states of decomposition, and Mexican authorities surmised that they had been dumped from the back of a large dump truck by the Zetas, a cartel composed of Mexican special forces deserters. The bodies were taken to nearby Monterrey for DNA testing.

Gruesome corpse piles have become a trend in Mexico over the past six months as the two cartels, now the country's most powerful, battle over territory and transport routes into the U.S. The Associated Press reported that 55 bodies have been found in three separate dumping incidents over the past month.

What the transient Zetas lack in territory and stability, they more than make up for in armament and violence, said a security expert from National Autonomous University in Mexico. Since president Felipe Calderon began his campaign against drug cartels in 2006, more than 47,500 people have lost their lives. Calderon, who is termed out, will be replaced in the current president race, although neither candidate has outlined a plan for how to deal with cartel violence.

Photo credit: Christian Palma/Associated Press