Mexican prosecutors are investigating a gruesome drug cartel video that may depict the executions of five young men who went missing after attending a festival in Jalisco last week.
The video was making the rounds online Wednesday. Relatives of the young men – who went missing Friday in an area known for cartel violence – told media outlets that they recognized the clothing the victims were wearing.
The video shows bound, inert bodies seen lying in the foreground. Most disturbingly, a young man, who seems to be one of the victims, can be seen bludgeoning and decapitating a member of the kidnapped group of friends.
The fifth member of the kidnapped group may be the body police found inside a burned-out car in the area.
Luis Méndez Ruiz, the Jalisco state attorney general, said Tuesday that the men seen in the video “could be the five men who are being searched for.”
“This video and the information that was made public on a social media platform is now part of the investigation,” Méndez said.
The video features a text written over the image that says “Puro MZ,” an apparent reference to El Mayo Zambada, the leader of a faction of the Sinaloa drug cartel. But it was unclear who was responsible for the video.
If confirmed, the video — which shows someone off-screen tossing the youth a brick, so he can bludgeon the victim with it — recalls memories of the most horrifying instances of drug cartel brutality, in which kidnap victims were forced to kill each other.
In 2010, one Mexican cartel abducted men from passenger buses and forced them to fight each other to death with sledgehammers.
That tragedy came to light in 2011, when authorities found 48 clandestine graves containing the bodies of 193 people in the northern border state of Tamaulipas. Most had their skulls crushed with sledgehammers, and many were Central American migrants.
It was later revealed the victims had been pulled off passing buses by the old Zetas drug cartel, and forced to fight each other with hammers or be killed, if they refused to work for the cartel.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.