MEXICO CITY - The bodies of three US siblings of Mexican descent believed to have been kidnapped by armed assailants more than two weeks ago were found in Mexico's troubled Tamaulipas state, a prosecutor said Thursday.
The three bodies were badly decomposed but the victims, two men and a woman in their 20s, have been identified by their father, state prosecutor Ismael Quintanilla told local radio.
"We are able to say that these are the young people," Quintanilla said.
The victims are believed to be 26-year-old Erica Alvarado Rivera, 26, and her brothers Alex, 22, and Jose Angel, 21. Their identities are to be confirmed via DNA analysis.
Their bodies were found on Wednesday near Matamoros, a town on the US border not far from Brownsville, Texas. A fourth body also was found at the scene, Quintanilla said.
The three siblings are from Texas and had crossed the border to visit their father.
Their parents had said their children were kidnapped on October 13 by armed men in the town of Control, west of Matamoros.
Their mother, Raquel Alvarado, claimed the kidnappers were members of the entourage of Control's mayor, Leticia Salazar. Quintanilla said nine of Salazar's bodyguards have been called in for questioning.
Salazar, a member of the conservative opposition National Action Party, has said she will cooperate with the investigation.
The prosecutor did not reveal a cause of death, but El Universal newspaper said the bodies were burned and had bullet wounds.
The grisly discovery comes as Mexican investigators hunt for 43 students who went missing more than a month ago in violence involving police and drug gang hitmen in the south of the country.
The case has shocked Mexico -- a country weary of years of mostly drug gang-linked violent crime -- and brought thousands to the streets demanding justice.
Tamaulipas state, where the bodies of the Americans were found, has for months been the scene of a turf war over drug routes pitting the Gulf cartel against the Zetas crime gang.
About 80,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico since 2006. Another 22,000 people are unaccounted for.