“Which bodies?” asked the investigative policeman I called in Sinaloa.
“Oh, those were a couple of fishermen. We’ve already identified them,” he said, with such confidence that it was only when I rang him back that he said he was mistaken.
Those two bodies were shot and dumped in the back of a Buick in the north-western Mexican city of Culiacan, last week.
Then there’s the three bodies in Mazatlan, further south, today. In August 10 people were killed — now that made the national news, albeit briefly.
For a population much less than Melbourne or Sydney, the state of Sinaloa (population 2.7 million) has a body count that rivals some of the worst places on the planet outside a war zone — 68 murders in September.
Except it is a war zone for the drug trade in a nation that has become numb to the violence.
Even when 43 of its own students were killed last year — in another Mexican state — on the orders of corrupt police who handed them over to a drug gang to be disappeared, nothing appears to have changed.
Bodies are found dumped by the side of the road, bodies are buried and bodies are simply burnt.
Then there’s all horrors that have been visited upon gang rivals which is then put on the internet. It’s brutal and savage.
Mexico’s drug war has created a level of impunity in some areas of the country, especially Sinaloa, which means no-one is safe — much less two Australian surfers travelling, it appears, at night.
There’s the suggestion from a girlfriend they may have decided to camp. My simple reaction is — what were they thinking?
The US State Department says: “Travel off the toll roads in remote areas of Sinaloa is especially dangerous and should be avoided.”
I have good friends who are Mexicans who have been travelling on a highway in convoy with their families during broad daylight only to be stopped by dozens of armed men.
Mexico’s second largest city Guadalajara was terrorised by just one drug gang in May this year that began burning trucks and cars, creating more than 40 “nacrobloqueos” (narco road blocks) because a gang leader had been arrested.
That’s how much power these criminals have.
The reporters of Sinaloa are very cautious about even giving their first names. The one I rang today about the Australians said the only way these latest bodies could be identified would be by DNA. I rang the investigative policeman back — yes, he confirmed.
The body count in Sinaloa has grown. It may have now claimed two Australians.