Investigators in southern Mexico on Thursday found the remains of 32 bodies and nine human heads buried in clandestine graves.
The grisly discovery was unearthed in more than a dozen hidden graves in the municipality of Zitlala in the state of Guerrero, home to several rival drug gangs. The area has experienced a wave of kidnappings, murders and turf wars. The drug cartels have been known to bury their victims in secret graves.
Officials say the remains have been taken to the state capital, Chilpancingo, for identification.
Mexican security forces found the remains after receiving an anonymous tip that people were being held at a camp. When they arrived, they found a kidnap victim. Information on the victim was not immediately available.
Roberto Alvarez Heredia, spokesman for the Guerrero Coordinating Group, said soldiers were combing the area looking for more graves.
Residents of the community of Tixtla found nine decapitated bodies Monday along a highway. Prosecutors are looking into whether the nine heads found in Zitlala correspond to these bodies.
The largely rural, impoverished state had 1,832 reported homicides in the first 10 months of 2016. If that rate continues unabated, it would rival the peak year of violence in the state in 2012, when there were about 68 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.