Alejandro Poire Romero, the technical secretary of the National Security Council, condemns killing of 72 suspected migrants dumped in a ranch near Gulf of Mexico.
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO (AUGUST 25, 2010) REUTERS - Mexican marines found 72 dead bodies at a remote ranch near the U.S. border on Tuesday (August 24), in what is the biggest single discovery of its kind in Mexico's increasingly bloody drug war.
Mexico's technical secretary of the National Security Council, Alejandro Poire Romero, condemned the killings on Wednesday (August 25).
"Yesterday, the marines repelled an aggression by alleged organised criminals during an operation in San Fernando Tamaulipas, where 72 people were found dead - 58 men and 14 women - and according preliminary information that needs to be confirmed, they could be illegal immigrants of several nationalities including El Salvador, Honduras, Ecuador and Brazil," Poire told a news conference.
The marines came across the bodies of 58 men and 14 women at the ranch outside a town near the Gulf of Mexico in Tamaulipas state, some 90 miles (150 km) from the Texas border, after a firefight with drug hitmen in which three gunmen and a marine died.
A suspected trafficker was arrested, the navy said, and several escaped in SUVs. Authorities were still investigating how long the bodies had been there.
"This is an extremely serious event which is absolutely outrageous which demands the unanimous condemnation from society and authorities which does not admit hesitation in our condemnation of crime and which should summon us to reject and categorically combat criminal activity in all its forms and manifestations," said Poire.
Marines guarding a nearby checkpoint reached the ranch after a wounded man approached them and asked for help. The soldiers came under fire as they neared the ranch, the navy said in a statement. After the firefight, marines seized assault rifles, bullets, uniforms and vehicles from the ranch -- including one with forged army license plates.
Mexican cartels have moved into human smuggling in recent years, sometimes kidnapping migrants, extorting them and forcing them to carry narcotics across the border.
The discovery in Tamaulipas is the largest single find in Mexico's 3-1/2 year assault on cartels, following the discovery of 55 bodies in western Guerrero state in May and 51 bodies on the outskirts of Monterrey near Texas in July.
President Felipe Calderon, who deployed tens of thousands of soldiers to fight cartels when he took office, has been seeking to shore up support from opposition politicians and civic leaders as the war on drugs grows more gruesome.