NEW: Mexico's new interior minister promises federal support
A recent analysis says Guadalajara could become the next drug war hot spot
The bodies were left near a monument on one of the city's main avenues
Major violence is rare in Guadalajara, Mexico's second-most populous city
Authorities found 26 bodies Thursday inside three abandoned vehicles in Guadalajara, Mexico, an official said.
All the victims were men, said Ulises Enríquez, a spokesman for the Jalisco delegation of the Attorney General’s Office.
The vehicles were discovered near a monument on one of the city’s main avenues, the state-run Notimex news agency reported, citing police sources.
Jalisco state Attorney General Tomas Coronado Olmos told CNN affiliate TV Azteca that a message was found with the bodies, but he did not disclose what it said.
In a Twitter post, Jalisco Gov. Emilio Gonzalez, a former mayor of Guadalajara, said he was “appalled and outraged” by the discovery, which came a day after authorities in Sinaloa state found 16 charred bodies inside two trucks that had been set ablaze.
Speaking about those bodies and also those found in Guadalajara, Mexico’s new interior minister promised to provide federal support.
“I would like to express our solidarity and support to the governments (of Jalisco and Sinaloa) and, in particular, let them know that the federal government will assist in investigating these cases, finding those responsible and making sure these crimes don’t go unpunished,” said Alejandro Poiré, who was sworn in last week.
Also Thursday, the Mexican military said it had seized 15 tons of marijuana in a rural area of Jalisco state several hours from the city.
About 43,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence since Mexican President Felipe Calderon announced a crackdown on cartels in December 2006, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
But brutal cartel killings are rare in Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-most populous city.
The city recently hosted the Pan American Games and is scheduled to host a large international book festival next week a few miles away from where the bodies were found.
In a security report published before the games began, analysts said Guadalajara would probably be the next hot spot in Mexico’s drug war, as the Zetas drug cartel tries to take over turf long dominated by the Sinaloa cartel.
The analysis, published in September by Southern Pulse, an online information network focused on Latin America, noted that major offensives were unlikely amid stepped-up security in the city during the high-profile sporting event.
“With over 10,000 police and a quantity of soldiers – pulled from their duties in Ciudad Juarez – on special assignment during the games, we would be surprised to register anything more than a slight blip during the games,” the analysis said. “Though when they are over, a major criminal offensive for the city could surface in early November, developing into a protracted battle for the city that will last though the end of the year, and possibly well into 2012.”
CNN’s Ariel Crespo, Krupskaia Alis, Rey Rodriguez, Rene Hernandez and CNNMexico.com contributed to this report.