Four women from the same family, all of them schoolteachers, were found tortured and slain in the mountains of northern Mexico, authorities in Chihuahua state said.
The victims, ages 32, 38, 57 and 59, were reported missing last Wednesday after they set out driving from the town of Creel to attend a funeral in Guachochi.
The women’s bodies were discovered late Saturday in a rural area of the municipality of Bocoyna, the Chihuahua state Attorney General’s Office said.
Authorities said the women reported having encountered a checkpoint set up by criminals on the road between Creel and Guachochi.
The mountains of Chihuahua have been a focal point for violence in recent weeks.
Hours after the discovery of the missing teachers, another woman was found fatally shot in a nearby village, though police said they saw no evidence the crimes were connected.
In the highland city of Guadalupe y Calvo, gunmen killed 11 people over the course of Dec. 7-8. The attackers closed the roads leading into tow, entered some houses and grabbed several people, residents told Efe.
Officials said off the record that the attackers may have belonged to the Sinaloa drug cartel while the victims may have been members of the La Linea gang, Reforma newspaper reported last week.
La Linea provides enforcers for the Juarez cartel in its war against the rival Sinaloa mob for control of smuggling routes in northern Mexico.
Chihuahua has been one of the states most affected by the wave of drug-related violence in Mexico, which has claimed some 60,000 lives since late 2006, when then-President Felipe Calderon militarized the struggle against the country’s cartels.