Officials in Mexico say that at least 49 decapitated and dismembered bodies were found along a major highway in Nuevo Leon State, between the cities of Monterrey and Reynosa, near the northern border Sunday morning.
Officials said that a message written on a wall nearby appeared to refer to the Zetas drug cartel.
“This continues to be violence between criminal groups. This is not attack against the civilian population,” said Jorge Domene, Nuevo Leon’s state security spokesman.
Officials said they had not ruled out the possibility that the victims could be Central American immigrants or residents of another state, telling reporters Sunday that there had not been any local missing persons reports in recent days.
But the area has become a battleground for a brutal conflict between the Zetas and the Gulf cartel, and reports of forced disappearances have become increasingly common in recent years.
Police and troops were combing the area and set up checkpoints after authorities received a report of the remains around 3 a.m. Sunday, police said.
The remains were found in the municipality of Cadereyta Jimenez, near the industrial city of Monterrey and about 80 miles southwest of the U.S. border, police said.
The middle-class, industrial community where the remains were found is known for a broom factory, an oil refinery and its historic role as one of the first places baseball was played in Mexico.