The sight of a dog running through a Mexican town with a severed hand in its mouth has led to a gruesome discovery of 53 buried bags filled with human remains.
The decaying bodies were found in late October during a festival called El Cervantino in Guanajato, a state ravaged by drug cartel murders, according to a report by Agence French-Presse.
People rushed to the burial site in the town of Irapuato after seeing the dog with the exhumed hand, and started looking for signs of their lost loved one.
“While people from all over the world were celebrating the Cervantino festival, we were digging up bodies, and at the same time I thought it was useless because they were burying more people elsewhere,” Bibiana Mendoza, one of the searchers, told the news agency.
Mendoza is an organizer of a group searching for an untold number of people missing amid widespread cartel violence – including her brother, according to AFP.
Guanajato is considered Mexico’s most violent state – with 2,400 people murdered this year through September while 3,000 more have vanished, according to the report.
A turf war between the Jalisco New Generation and Santa Rosa de Lima cartels is at the heart of the violence in the state, which remains a tourist destination and industry hub, AFP reported.
Cartel gunmen have killed numerous people in restaurants and bars in recent months, including an October massacre in Irapuato that left 12 dead.
Weeks later, Santa Rosa de Lima gunmen killed nine people including restaurant workers in a bar in Apaseo el Alto within the state.
The notorious Jalisco cartel is led by Nemesio Oseguera aka “El Mencho,” who is a wanted international fugitive.