A gruesome video depicting the decapitation of five members of a Mexican drug cartel by a rival gang has been posted on the internet in the latest atrocity in the raging battle over drug-smuggling routes.
The chilling, three-minute video is the latest stunt in the deadly feud – which has already claimed a number of similarly gruesome deaths.
The video, which was posted on the cartel-tracking blog Mundonarco.com, shows masked members of the Gulf cartel standing behind five shirtless members of the Zetas cartel, who have black ‘Zs’ painted on their chests.
The masked men are wielding machetes and slap their prisoners, who are kneeling below them, as they each state their name for the camera.
When they are asked who sent them, they each reply ‘Z-40′.
40 is the name given to Miguel Angel Treviño Morales, the Zeta cartel’s second-in-command.
The man shooting the video tells them: ’You find yourselves here because you came to f*** us. Pay attention, men.’
The camera then shows three of the men start the grizzly, slow process of beheading them as they hack and saw at their necks with the machetes.
As the men plead for mercy, the man shooting the video says: ’This is how all your filthy people are going to end.’
When the process is over, after almost two painstaking minutes, the masked men hold the severed heads up like they are trophies.
The fate of only three of the five men is revealed.
Mundonarco.com states the video was shot in Río Bravo, Mexico, along the U.S. border.
The Zetas were founded by former soldiers who defected from the Mexican military in 1998 to work as hired killers for drug traffickers.
They have since carved out their own smuggling empire, expanded massively across Mexico and diversified into kidnapping, extortion and theft of crude oil.
On June 10, the dismembered bodies of 11 men and three women were discovered in the sugar-cane farming town of Ciudad Mante in the south of Tamaulipas state, which borders on Texas.
Tamaulipas has been one of the bloodiest battlegrounds in Mexico’s drug war.
Just five days earlier, Mexican police found seven dismembered bodies in Pacific coast state Sinaloa, along with a message accusing authorities of cooperating with drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman - the country’s most-wanted man.
The bodies were discovered stuffed into 13 black garbage bags in the early hours of June 5 and dumped on a footpath in a residential area, authorities said.
Guzman, who has long been recognized as Mexico’s most powerful drug capo, was included this year on the Forbes list of the world’s richest people, with an estimated fortune of $1 billion.
He escaped from a Mexican prison in 2001 in a laundry truck and has a $7 million bounty on his head.
In January, Los Zetas released a video showing the hanging of two members of the gulf cartel and last month 49 decapitated bodies were dumped along a highway by the same gang.
The U.S. has offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the capture of 40.
In total, around 55,000 people have died in drug related violence and more than 5,000 have disappeared in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006.
Last week, the U.S. State Department warned American travelers to Mexico to beware of possible violent retaliation after the arrest of alleged Zetas drug cartel associates within the U.S.
Despite the warning not specifying the Los Zetas cartel by name, the government warned U.S. citizens to be on the guard for ‘anti-American’ violence after the arrest of members of a ‘Transnational Criminal Organisation’ (TCO).
The alert specifically mentions the State of Tamaulipas and came a day after seven alleged associates of the Los Zetas crime group were arrested in New Mexico and Oklahoma for laundering millions through horse breeding and racing.
[Editor’s Note: The full video of the beheadings is available here.]