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Fears of mafia activity in Mexico City rise after body hung from bridge

Victim in his 30s was tortured before he was shot twice in the head, say authorities

El cuerpo de un hombre encontrado en un puente de Iztapalapa
The body of a man is found hanging from a bridge in Iztapalapa.

The residents of the Mexico City suburb of Iztapalapa woke up on Monday morning to a gruesome sight. Someone had hung the body of a man, who was wrapped up like a mummy in white bandages and had his face covered with a black mask, from a busy road bridge.

Motorists traveling near La Concordia – the bridge located on the highway between Mexico City and Puebla state – alerted authorities at around 4am, when they discovered the hanging body.

Such killings were rare in Mexico City, which was considered a safe haven during the drug war

Prosecutors said the victim, who showed signs of having been tortured before he was shot twice in the head, appeared to be have been in his 30s.

The incident, no doubt, was a clear reminder of the extreme violence and sadistic killings that were common throughout Mexico when mafias terrorized communities during the height of the drug war.

The Zetas were known for such brutal ritualistic killings, which took place during their savage battles with the Gulf Cartel for control of drug routes in Tamaulipas state at the beginning of the decade.

But such killings were rare in Mexico City, which was considered a safe haven during President Felipe Calderón’s (2006-2012) war against the cartels, which he declared at the start of his term.

Nevertheless, a string of tragic events, with clear signs of mafia involvement, have plagued the Mexican capital over the past few months.

In May, a shootout occurred at one of the prosecutors’ offices when an armed group of men helped free an alleged leader of the Jalisco New Generation drug cartel. The following month, the owner of a bar in the fashionable Condesa neighborhood was gunned down as he got out of his vehicle in front of the establishment.

Mexico City has not seen such high murder rates in 17 years. According to the country’s National Statistics Institute, as well as city government officials, there have been 1,147 homicide cases this year up until August.

Nevertheless, authorities have assured the public that these murders are isolated cases and cannot be viewed as an overall trend of drug mafias moving into the city.

Iztapalapa is Mexico City’s most heavily populated district, and is home to almost two million people

After Monday’s grisly discovery, Patricia Mercado, the Mexico City government’s chief-of-staff, went no further than confirming via a radio interview that authorities were still investigating the case.

Iztapalapa is Mexico City’s most heavily populated district, with almost two million people living within its 100-square-kilometer boundaries.

Located near the border of Mexico state, Iztapalapa is a fine example of the city’s urban sprawl, which began in the middle of last century. Once an agricultural area, the region attracted waves of migrants from the interior of the country, prompting a rash of homebuilding at the foot of the Santa Catarina mountain range.

The district has the highest crime rate in the city, while its residents make up the majority of inmates imprisoned in the capital’s jails. Today, Iztapalapa is divided into two sectors: a nicer residential area near Coyoacán and a zone near the Mexico state border, which is where firemen were called in on Monday to take down the body hanging from La Concordia bridge.

English version by Martin Delfín.

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