MEXICO CITY — Residents of a small Mexican town witnessed a gruesome scene that seemed out of a horror movie last week when a dog was caught on video running down a street gripping a human head in its teeth.
The video was reportedly filmed in the town of Monte Escobedo, in the northern state of Zacatecas. The state is currently embroiled in a deadly turf war between rival cartels, principally factions linked to the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG for its Spanish acronym), although other criminal groups have a presence there as well.
After the video spread on social media, the state attorney general’s office confirmed its authenticity on Thursday, according to Mexican newspaper El Universal. Authorities said that human remains were discovered inside an ATM booth in the downtown area of Monte Escobedo around 10:20pm Wednesday. Before authorities could arrive at the scene to cordon off the crime scene, witnesses said that a dog came and carried off the severed head.
Police reportedly spent several hours searching for the dog and the head, but didn’t find it until Thursday morning, inside the fenced off area of a house also in the downtown area. Authorities gave the head to its forensic team with the hope of determining the sex and age of the victim, and any other information that could be used to identify the person.
Authorities also stated that alongside the original location of the head, two notes were left that attributed the attack to organized crime. They did not release details about what the messages said, nor which criminal group in the region allegedly left them.
Over the past few years, rival criminal groups have waged war for territory in Zacatecas. The expansive and sparsely populated inland state is a lucrative corridor used to move drugs north to the U.S. It’s also become an area that criminal groups use to run drug labs and narco-camps for training new recruits. Zacatecas currently ranks as one of the most dangerous states in Mexico, and has one of the highest homicide rates in the country.
The practice of leaving human remains with signed messages by drug cartels in public places is common in Mexico’s ongoing drug wars. Leaving human heads in an attempt to intimidate authorities or rivals first became a prominent tactic in the mid-2000s, when six severed heads appeared in a three month span in the popular beach resort of Acapulco just prior to the 2006 presidential election. Since then, the practice has been repeated countless times around the country by numerous criminal groups.