5 bodies found in burned-out SUV in Arizona desert
Washington: Five charred bodies have been found in a burned-out vehicle in the southern Arizona desert, prompting authorities to probe whether it was a "cartel hit" by Mexican drug mafia.
Border Patrol officers first spotted the white Ford Excursion sports utility vehicle yesterday off the side of Interstate 8 in western Pinal County, about 100 kilometres south of Phoenix, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said.
When the agent turned around, the SUV "fled at high rates of speed," Babeu said.
Aided by daylight, authorities spotted "numerous tracks off the road" and followed them for some distance before coming across a smoldering vehicle.
"That's when the Border Patrol agents went up to the vehicle with fire extinguishers and realized there were bodies inside, clearly deceased," Babeu was quoted as saying by CNN.
None of the five killed was in the SUV's front seat. One was in the second row and the other four bodies were found "laying down flat in the cargo area," Babeu said.
A cause of death for the victims, who have not been identified, is not yet known.
The charred vehicle was the same make and model as the one spotted by the Border Patrol agent hours earlier.
Authorities are investigating whether the bodies found are linked to violence by Mexican drug cartels.