Mexican authorities found the bodies of eight kidnap victims, some dismembered, on a highway in the troubled southern state of Guerrero where government troops have been deployed to stem violence.
The victims were all related and their bodies were identified by relatives. Some of the dismembered bodies were placed in plastic bags.
The bodies included two women, said an official with the local prosecutor’s office who declined to be identified. Authorities are still searching for three more people who were kidnapped with the group last Thursday.
Guerrero, home to the resort city of Acapulco, is one of Mexico’s most violent states. Drug cartels are battling for lucrative trafficking routes to the United States and fighting over territory for kidnapping and extortion rackets.
Security in the state has been ramped up at various times over the past few years, including after the discovery of dozens of bodies in clandestine graves, battles between rival groups and the burning of entire villages.
But the violence has not ceased and 2012 ended with more than 2,600 killings. Many armed self-defense groups have formed.
Since former President Felipe Calderon launched a military-led crackdown on drug cartels in early 2007, more than 80,000 people have been killed.
The numbers of killings have fallen slightly since President Enrique Pena Nieto took office last December. But analysts say the violence has continued and even spread to new areas with no major changes in security strategy.