Yesterday, three Mexican journalists’ bodies were discovered, dismembered and stuffed into plastic bags. They apparently had been asking the wrong questions in a country where drug violence is already dangerously high. Fox News reported at the time:

It was a bloody start to World Press Freedom Day in Mexico as authorities in the eastern state of Veracruz discovered the bodies of three news photographers slain and dumped together in plastic bags near a canal, less than a week after the killing in the same state of a reporter for an investigative newsmagazine.

Press advocates called for immediate government action to halt a wave of attacks that has killed at least six current and former reporters and photographers in Veracruz over the last year, most of them among the few journalists still working on crime-related stories in the state. The deaths have spawned an atmosphere of terror and self-censorship among journalists.

The problem isn’t confined to Veracruz. Mexico is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists, with reporters and photographers suffering a rising number of attacks in recent years as the country grapples with tens of thousands of killings, kidnappings and extortion against the backdrop of a militarized government offensive against drug cartels. Prosecutions in the cases are all but unknown, as is the case with almost all homicides and other serious crimes in Mexico.

Today, an even more grisly discovery has surfaced, as 23 total people were found dead in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.

14 of the corpses were beheaded and wrapped in plastic bags, with their heads preserved in separate ice boxes. The other 9, however, were discovered in a truly horrific state. WTOP Washington describes the carnage:

The bodies of nine people were found hanging from a bridge in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, just 6 miles from the U.S. border. Five were men and four women.

Pictures showed the nine bound, gagged and hanged.

23 Corpses Discovered in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico Today; 9 Hanging from a Bridge, 14 Beheaded

A message left with the bodies identified them as members of the Gulf cartel. A rivaling cartel, Los Zetas, is believed to be responsible for the deaths.

All of the victims showed signs of torture. Their hands were tied and their eyes covered, sources tell WTOP.

23 Corpses Discovered in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico Today; 9 Hanging from a Bridge, 14 Beheaded

The Hideous Sight in Full

The increased violence comes as Mexican President Felipe Calderon has been waging a war on the Mexican drug cartels using government resources – a war where only one side is following any rules, and where apparently only one side cares who gets caught in the crossfire. So far, more than 50,000 casualties have occurred from this standoff between the cartels and the Mexican government. These 23 are simply a particularly gruesome sample.