Mexico Investigating Reports 17 People Dragged From Funeral Wake, Executed

Mexican investigators are looking into reports that 17 mourners were shot after gunmen dragged them away from a wake in Michoacán state.

While no bodies have been found yet, a video circulated on social media showed the group of people being shot, Reuters reported. The Michoacán chief prosecutor's office found firearm cartridges and cleaning products at the site where the crime supposedly took place, the report added. It's one of many crimes recently reported in the state, where some of the country's most dangerous drug cartels are currently engaged in a turf war.

Video from the execution showed the 17 people in the town of San José de Gracia lined up on a street outside of a house in broad daylight, their hands on their faces. Two white SUVs are parked with their doors open, blocking off the street. At least five gunmen can be seen in the video.

Based on the vantage point, the video was likely recorded from a roof or high window of a house down the street from where the shooting occurred. At a Monday morning press conference, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said while "human body parts" have been found, the investigation is still ongoing.

Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico
Authorities are investigating reports of 17 mourners being shot in Michoacan, Mexico following a wake. Above, a high point of view of Morelia Cathedral and town square in Morelia, the capital of Michoacan, Mexico. Stock Image/Getty Images

"I hope with all my soul that what happened is not as it's being portrayed [on social media]," he said.

This is not the first time gunmen have targeted a funeral or wake in the country. Just last month, gunmen in Ciudad Juárez killed six people, including a 12-year-old boy, after storming a man's funeral vigil and service two days in a row, the El Paso Times reported. Over 100 homicides have taken place in the city just since the start of the year.

Michoacán, the state where the massacre occurred, has been a magnet for cartel violence due to its smuggling routes and the ability to extort lime and avocado growers in the area, as Michoacán is the only state currently allowed to export avocados to the United States, Newsweek previously reported. Last year, $2.8 billion of the $3 billion worth of avocados the U.S. imported were from Mexico.

This has made cartels like Jalisco New Generation and a coalition of local groups called United Cartels battle over the region, Vice reported. Last month, cartels began using improvised explosive devices in the region for the first time. The U.S. Department of Justice called Jalisco New Generation Cartel "one of the five most dangerous transnational criminal organizations in the world."

Update 02/28/22 1 p.m. ET: This article was updated with more information.