SAN BENITO, Guatemala – One of Guatemala’s worst massacres since the end of the country’s decades-long civil war was the work of the brutal Mexican drug cartel the Zetas, Guatemalan officials said Monday.
The gang’s violent signature could be seen in the manner and style in which the 29 bodies were found: bound, beheaded and strewn across a grassy field near their cut-off heads, said Guatemalan Interior Minister Carlos Menocal.
Two children and two women were among the dead, most of whom worked on the dairy ranch where the bodies were found, according to Luis Armando Garcia, 23, a survivor of the bloodbath, who talked to The Associated Press in the hospital in San Benito.
“I don’t know how I survived,” Armando Garcia said. He said he lay bound in the grass and pretended he was dead during the late Saturday attack until police arrived early the next morning.
A message written in blood on one of the ranch building’s walls said the killers were looking for ranch owner Otto Salguero. Menocal said authorities were trying to find out more about Salguero, whose whereabouts were unknown.
Armando Garcia had worked only a month at the ranch in the rural northern province of Peten, a jungle region that has long been a popular transport route for drugs moving north from South America. Garcia said he didn’t know Salguero, but said the ranch produced milk and cheese in the township of La Libertad near the Mexican border.
A large group of armed men showed up late Saturday and rounded up the workers, he said. He was bound like the others and suffered machete wounds.
The killers didn’t identify themselves but said they would be back, Garcia said.