Authorities said at least 71 people have gone missing on the so-called "highway of death" in Mexico this year, and it's being linked to Mexican drug cartels.

It was the local media that dubbed the highway between Mexico's industrial hub of Monterrey and the border city of Nuevo Laredo as the "highway of death."

Relatives of the victims earlier estimated that at least half a dozen of those missing are U.S. residents. They had also placed the number of disappeared so far this year at around 50, Associated Press reported.

Most of the missing are men who are driving trucks or taxis on the "highway of death," according to Karla Quintana, head of Mexico's National Search Commission.

Women and children driving private cars are also missing. Quintana said the disappearances might be linked to turf wars between the Jalisco Cartel and Northeast Cartel.

READ NEXT: 2 Men Found 'Crucified' in Mexico as Jalisco Cartel and Sinaloa Cartel's Bloody Turf War Goes On

Mexico's 'Highway of Death'

According to another AP News, activist Angelic Orozco said it is no longer between clashing Mexican drug cartels as the groups already involve and attack the public.

One of those who disappeared is José de Jesús Gómez. Gómez was from Irving, Texas, and was reported missing after he set off on the "highway of death" on June 3.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) office in San Antonio, Texas had earlier issued a bulletin seeking information on the disappearance of a Laredo, Texas woman. She was identified as Gladys Perez Sanchez, who was missing with her 16-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter.

They were also last seen passing on the highway on June 13. They visited their relatives in Sabinas Hidalgo and were returning to Texas when they disappeared.

In the past months, activists said some men reappeared alive and badly beaten after being abducted on the "highway of death." Most of them said that armed men forced them to stop on the highway and took their vehicles.

On June 23, officials of Nuevo Leon state, where Monterrey is located, warned people against traveling on the highway. They have also increased policing and security in the area and are searching for missing people.

According to Quintana, investigations are focusing on the area near where the highway enters Nuevo Laredo, where the Northeast Cartel has long dominated.

Orozco said the disappearances mark the comeback of a dark age during Mexico's drug war. In 2011, drug cartel gunmen in the neighboring state of Tamaulipas dragged passengers off the buses.

The gunmen then forced each of them to fight each other to death with sledgehammers. In May, United Forces of Our Disappeared issued a press release, cautioning the public of the dangers on the "highway of death."

The Jalisco Cartel

Jalisco Cartel is a criminal group that emerged after Mexican security forces killed former Sinaloa Cartel capo Ignacio Coronel in July 2010.

Since then, the group has been associated with the use of extreme violence. Homicides, force disappearances, and discoveries of mass graves had increased in Jalisco state.

The Jalisco Cartel had also claimed responsibility for a 2011 massacre which included 35 people in Veracruz state, Insight Crime reported. Security forces had recovered another 30 corpses that apparently were victims of the group a month later.

Recently, the Jalisco Cartel had resorted to targeting and killing police officers at their homes in Guanajuato, which is considered Mexico's most violent state and most dangerous area for police.

Jalisco Cartel members were showing at officers' homes on their days off and murdered them in front of their families, Business Insider reported.

The Northeast Cartel

Former members of the Zetas cartel created the Northeast Cartel. They were behind the attack in Villa Union in the northern state of Coahuila, which is considered one of the bloodiest shootings in 2019. Four police officers, 17 criminals, and two civilians were among the reported casualties. 

Security forces had also rescued several people who were earlier kidnapped by members of the Northeast Cartel. Two Texas hunters were found to have been abducted and later released by the gunmen.

Security expert Alejandro Hope previously said that the Northeast Cartel is led by Juan Gerardo Trevino Chavez, known as "Huevo."

READ MORE: Clashing Mexican Drug Cartels Leave 2 Police and 7 Others Dead in Mexico

This article is owned by Latin Post

Written by Mary Webber

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