On Aug. 24, Mexico’s Navy found 72 bodies on a ranch located in the municipality of San Fernando, Tamaulipas, some 150 kilometers from the US border. The discovery was made after Navy personnel conducting operations in the vicinity repelled an attack by presumed narco-gunmen, in which one marine and three assailants were killed. After the gunfight, an 18-year-old man, Luis Freddy Lala Pomavilla of Ecuador, staggered to the Navy’s highway checkpoint requesting medical attention, having suffered a bullet wound to his face. Lala proved to be the sole survivor of the massacre at the nearby ranch, where the bodies were subsequently found.
The victims, 58 men and 14 women, are said to be migrants from Central America, Brazil and Ecuador. Lala—who was trying to enter the US to join his parents there and support his 17-year-old pregnant wife in Ecuador—told investigators that gunmen identifying themselves as members of Los Zetas narco paramilitary force intercepted the migrants as they moved toward the border, then took them blindfolded to the ranch. There, they were ordered to hand over cash, or given the option to work as Zeta assassins for $2,000 a month. When the migrants refused, the gunmen opened fire, Lala reported. (Poder360, MSNBC Aug. 26; Reuters, Aug. 24)