MORELIA, Mexico – The bodies of five Mexican farm laborers were found dead of gunshot wounds inside a vehicle in the western state of Michoacan, authorities said.
The laborers were found on the side of a road linking the town of La Piedad with the city of Guadalajara, capital of the neighboring state of Jalisco, the Michoacan state Attorney General’s Office told Efe.
The bodies, which bore signs of torture, were found Tuesday inside a Chevrolet, while another abandoned vehicle was discovered nearby.
The five men were identified as farmworkers and natives and residents of the southern state of Guerrero, authorities said.
The grisly find comes amid a wave of violence in recent days in Michoacan, where suspected drug traffickers have clashed since last weekend with federal troops and members of community police forces.
Vast areas of Michoacan are under the control of the Los Caballeros Templarios (The Knights Templar) cartel, a gang that originated in December 2010 as a faction of the La Familia Michoacana criminal organization.
Michoacan is home to remote mountainous regions that are ideal locations for the production of natural and synthetic drugs.
Cocaine shipments from South America and synthetic-drug precursor chemicals from Asia also are smuggled into Mexico via Michoacan’s more than 270-kilometer (170-mile) Pacific coastline, authorities say.