(CNN) — The Mexican Navy discovered 72 dead bodies on a ranch Tuesday in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, Mexico, a statement released by the agency said.
The bodies, 58 of which were men and 14 women, were found above ground in a section of a ranch about 14 miles (22 km) away from the town of San Fernando. The Navy called it one of the largest discoveries of dead bodies in Mexico’s 4 year-old war on organized crime.
Members of the Mexican Navy were tipped off about the gruesome, makeshift, burial ground after encountering a man who was suffering from a gunshot wound. The man said he had been injured by a criminal gang, according to a statement released by the Navy.
“The Navy went to the area where the man came from and encountered gunfights. A naval officer was killed and three of the delinquents were killed,” an officer who answered the phone at the Navy’s communication department told CNN. The officer, who was not authorized to speak on the record, declined to give his name.
During the confrontation, a stash of weapons was found by the Navy, including camouflage uniforms, bullet proof vests and four trucks disguised to look like vehicles from the Ministry of National Defense, according to the statement.
The discovery of the 72 bodies was made after the gunfights, according to the navy officer who answered the phone. He said the bodies were located inside a structure on the ranch.
“The federal government strongly condemns the barbaric acts committed by criminal organizations and reaffirms its commitment to the rule of law. The whole society must condemn such acts which illustrate the absolute need to continue fighting crime in the strongest terms by the Mexican State to achieve the peace we demand the Mexicans,” a statement from the Navy added.