19 Bodies Found Shot and Burned Near Texas U.S.-Mexico Border

At least 19 burned and bullet-ridden bodies were found in two burned-out vehicles near the U.S.-Mexico border over the weekend.

They were recovered along a dirt road in Santa Anita, outside Camargo, on Friday after residents reported a burning vehicle across the Rio Grande from Texas.

Officers arrived to find two abandoned pick-up trucks on fire, with one containing four bodies and the other 15, the Tamaulipas Attorney General's Office said in a statement on Saturday.

Investigators believe the victims had been shot before they were set on fire. However, no bullet casings were found at the scene, leading authorities to conclude the shooting occurred elsewhere.

Gente de la zona donde ocurrió la incineración de 19 cuerpos en #Camargo asegura que las camionetas calcinadas eran perseguidas desde #NuevoLeón y cruzaron a #Tamaulipas. De hecho no se encontraron casquillos en el lugar donde se encontraron los vehículos quemados. pic.twitter.com/OvQ5uobWXY

— ElGuzman 🇲🇽 (@FuriaNegra7) January 24, 2021

Forensic teams have since collected evidence from the site in order to determine the circumstances surrounding the deaths.

"Preliminary investigations point to the fact that the cause of death were shots from firearms, and that then the bodies were set on fire," authorities said. "One of the lines of investigation is that the events could have happened at a place other than that of the discovery."

The area is known for "constant fights between rival criminal groups that traffic drugs, arms and migrants," a source close to the investigation, who declined to be named, told Reuters.

Camargo is a major smuggling transit point for drugs and migrants attempting to cross the border into Texas.

The territory has seen violent territorial disputes between organized crime groups—notably the Gulf, Noreste and Zetas cartels—in recent years.

A separate source from the prosecutor's office told AFP news agency that an investigation has been launched to determine whether the people killed were undocumented migrants travelling from Guatemala to try to reach the U.S., as local media has reported.

The official said they have contacted Guatemalan consular authorities in Mexico "to provide the necessary information and try to identify some of the people believed to be Guatemalan migrants."

#FGJT_Informa La @FGJ_Tam abrió carpeta de investigación derivado del hallazgo de cuerpos y vehículos calcinados en el poblado Santa Anita #Camargo #Tamaulipas pic.twitter.com/LoDD9wW6Qc

— Fiscalía General de Justicia de Tamaulipas (@FGJ_Tam) January 24, 2021

In January 2020, 21 bodies were found inside vehicles near the neighboring Ciudad Mier. In 2019, 24 corpses were found in the nearby city of Miguel Aleman. Most of these bodies were discovered partially or completely burned.

Every year thousands of people from Central America attempt to make their way into the U.S. through Mexico.

The region surrounding the U.S.–Mexico border is one of the deadliest for migrants, with the number growing each year.

Drug gangs often kidnap, murder and extort money from migrants travelling through their territories.

Cartels are known to run people smuggling operations that take advantage of people's desperate wish to the United States.

US Mexico border
File photo; Members of the State Police participate in a security operation on one of the roads leading to the international bridge with the United States, in Nuevo Laredo, northeast of the Mexican capital, on June 17, 2005. The area has seen violent territorial disputes between organized crime groups in recent years. ALFREDO ESTRELLA/Getty

Nearly 500 migrants from Central and South America died in 2019 near the US-Mexico border, according to the UN.

The Missing Migrants Project documented a total of 2,403 deaths since 2014, including 497 in 2019.

Most were recorded in the waters of the Río Bravo or Rio Grande river, which runs between the Texas border and the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo León and Coahuila, where 109 people lost their lives last year.

Tamaulipas, on Mexico's Gulf coast, is the shortest route to the U.S. but also one of the most dangerous.

Last week, three thousand migrants managed to make their way to the Mexican border, many driven by an increasingly desperate situation in Honduras, where citizens face grave poverty and gang violence.

President Joe Biden has promised to implement immigration reform but has planned to keep Trump border policies in place for the time being, out of concern that migrants would flock to the U.S. after he took office.

The newly-inaugurated president paused construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall as more than 200 miles of federally-funded sections of the barrier remain incomplete or in the pre-construction phase, according to the latest official figures.

Delivering on a campaign promise, Biden issued a proclamation ordering that construction of President Donald Trump's border wall be stopped, labeling the project a "waste of money" and a poor policy solution.

"It shall be the policy of my Administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall," Biden said in the week he was sworn into office. "I am also directing a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected to construct a southern border wall."