Mexican authorities have uncovered four more mass graves in the northern border state of Tamaulipas, where the country's violent drug cartels have begun abducting passengers on buses in the area, including at least one U.S. citizen.
The U.S. State Department issued a new warning against travel in Tamaulipas after 16 more bodies were found there over the weekend, raising the death toll in the string of abductions in the region to 88. U.S. citizens are discouraged from traveling in three Mexican states.
"The United States Consulates General in Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey advise American citizens that the U.S. government has received uncorroborated information that Mexican criminal gangs may intend to attack U.S. law enforcement officers or U.S. citizens in the near future in Tamaulipas, Nuevo León and San Luis Potosi," the statement read.
Uscanga was arrested Friday carrying an assault rifle and $3,000 in cash. He and 13 other suspects arrested in the abductions and slayings are thought to be members of the Zetas cartel, one of the most powerful drug organizations in Mexico.
The Zetas and other cartels are in the middle of a bloody battle for control over Tamaulipas, a vast, rural region that has become a lucrative drug-running route in recent years. Some of the suspects in the bus kidnappings were arrested in military uniform, according to multiple news reports in Mexico.
Authorities are working to determine whether the bodies found in the mass graves are those of the missing bus passengers, who were kidnapped March 24 and 25 in San Fernando, a small town 90 miles south of the Texas border. In August, 72 bodies, most of them identified as migrants from Central American countries, were found in mass graves near the town.
The gruesome discovery is only the latest in a five-year war on the nation's brutal cartels that has left an estimated 30,000 people dead.