Updated 04:09 PM EDT, Mon, Aug 03, 2020

The 6 Most Infamous Crimes Committed by Mexican Cartels

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If you've ever shuddered at the news broadcast about the casualties of border wars in Mexico, you may not know the half of it.

These are the most heinous crimes committed by the Mexican cartels, from faces stitched on soccer balls to mass graves and mass murders.

 And while you may assume they're the product of the increasing tension over turf control, you'd be wrong. Cause some of them? Well, they happened well before the fight for drug turf came about. 

House of Death

The House of Death is the site of a number of gruesome serial killings committed by the Juarez Cartel in Cuidad Juarez, Mexico. The bodies of at least 12 cartel rivals and informants were found in 2004, after they had been taken tortured and murdered by the cartel. What was most shocking about these crimes is that they took place well before cartel rivalries were involved in the bloody border wars of today. 

The crimes committed at the House of Death were extremely graphic and the back story is interesting -- it involves an undercover cop who goes rogue and takes part in the killings -- so you might want to click here to read more about it.   

San Fernando Massacre

The 2010 massacre that took place in San Fernando, Mexico, was one of the bloodiest massacres by any cartel in recent years. The village of El Huizachal was devastated when members of Los Zetas cartel killed 72 undocumented immigrants -- 58 men and 14 women, most of whom were from Central America -- by shooting them in the back of the head and piling their bodies upon one another. 

Investigators later attributed the bloody mass murders to the immigrants' refusal to either work for, or pay off, the Zetas. There were only three survivors.

Decapitations in Monterrey

In May 2014, 49 mutilated, headless bodies were found in an industrial city near Monterrey. Investigators struggled to identify the victims, as they were missing not only their heads, but their hands and feet as well. The town in which they were dumped was marked as Zeta territory, with a graffiti message spraypainted on the arch above where the bodies were found with the message "100% Zeta."

The massacre followed a number of other bloody mass murderers in the area, where bodies of kidnapped victims -- some who were identified as bricklayers -- were dumped in vans of found hanged.


Hugo Hernandez, or the Slaughtered Soccer Ball

After being kidnapped by members of the Sinaloa cartel, Hugo Hernandez was brutally beheaded on video by La Guera Loca, and his face was peeled off and stitched onto a soccer ball as a warning to the other rival cartels. His torso was found in a container, with his skull, arms and legs found in another box down the street. So yeah, it was pretty awful. 

Apodaca Prison Riot

In 2012, members of rival cartels -- Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel -- were involved in a bloody prison riot in Apodaca, Nuevo Leon, in which 44 people were killed.  Another 12 were brutally injured, and at least 30 prisoners escaped. 

The prison guards allowed members of the Zeta cartel to rush the cells of the sleeping Gulf cartel members around 2 a.m. on February 19, 2012. Security guards regained control of the prison by 6 a.m., but they managed to do that massive amount of damage in just a few hours.

Durango Massacres

A number of fosas, or narco-graves, were found around the city of Durango in 2011. Hundreds of bodies were unearthed from these dumping sites, many of which were found in completely unexpected places. One of the narco-graves investigators found, the seventh in 2011, was inside a white stucco house in an upscale neighborhood, and the bodies were buried in the garden of the home.  

Estimates for the number of people buried in the narco-graves in Durango are around 380, although that's just a rough estimate. There are likely to be many, many more. 

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