MEXICO CITY – The wave of drug-related violence continued to claim victims this weekend in Mexico, where seven bodies were found in the southern state of Guerrero and at least four people were murdered in the border city of Juarez.
The bodies were tossed in bags from a bridge 300 meters (nearly 1,000 feet) above the Mezcala River and found on the banks, the Guerrero Public Safety Secretariat said Sunday.
The bags containing the bodies of five men and two women were thrown off the Solidaridad bridge on the Sol highway, which links the cities of Cuernavaca and Chilpancingo.
The bridge, which is 882 meters (nearly 2,900 feet) long and 300 meters high, is one of the tallest in Latin America.
The bodies were “destroyed” by the impact and investigators were unable to immediately determine if they “bore wounds caused by some type of weapon,” the secretariat said in a statement.
In Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, at least four people have been killed and two others wounded this weekend in separate shootings, prosecutors said.
Gunmen opened fire on a group of people at a family reunion in a Juarez neighborhood, killing three people and wounding two others, who were taken to the hospital for treatment.
A man was shot, meanwhile, in Praxedis Guerrero, a town in the Juarez metropolitan area.
The man, who eyewitnesses said was a police major in the town in the Juarez Valley, was pronounced dead several hours later at a public hospital.
A total of 82 people were murdered in the border city, which is in Chihuahua state, in April, prosecutors said.
In the first four months of this year, according to official figures, 508 people were murdered in Ciudad Juarez, where more than 10,000 soldiers and police have been deployed to bolster security.
The police force in Juarez has been under the command of soldiers and federal and state police officers since the end of February.
A dozen soldiers were named to command-level posts in the police force as part of an effort to halt the drug-related violence in the border city.
Juarez earned the dubious distinction of being Mexico’s most violent city last year.
In 2008, the border city experienced days when dozens of people were murdered in the span of a few hours, and armed groups committed acts of violence in public areas that terrorized residents.
The border city, home to the Juarez drug cartel, ended 2008 with a total of 1,605 people murdered, including 77 federal, state and municipal police officers, according to press tallies, making it the most violent city in Mexico.
Chihuahua was considered Mexico’s most violent state in 2008, with 2,206 murders reported.
Armed groups linked to Mexico’s drug cartels murdered around 1,500 people in 2006 and 2,700 people in 2007, with the 2008 death toll soaring to more than 6,000.
Since taking office in December 2006, President Felipe Calderon has deployed more than 45,000 soldiers and 20,000 federal police officers across Mexico in a bid to stem the wave of violence unleashed by drug traffickers.
The anti-drug operation, however, has failed to put a dent in the violence due, according to experts, to drug cartels’ ability to buy off the police and even high-ranking prosecutors.