A woman walks under a banner in Uruapan, Mexico. File picture: Alan Ortega/Reuters

Mexico City - Mexican police on Thursday found 19 bodies in three different places along a street in the western city of Uruapan, in what was believed to be score-settling between criminal gangs, prosecutors said.

Seven of the bodies were hanging from a traffic bridge, some of them half naked, news portal Quadratin and daily La Voz de Michoacan reported. Two others were found nearby.

Body parts of seven people were also discovered underneath a pedestrian bridge. Three other bodies were found inside plastic bags elsewhere on the street, known as the Industrial Boulevard, which leads out of the city.

Three of the victims were women. A plastic banner hanging from the traffic bridge displayed what appeared to be threats from the Jalisco New Generation drug cartel - one of the most powerful in Mexico - to the rival Viagras gang.

"You will end up like this," the banner read.

Michoacan Secretary of Public Security Israel Patron put the number of bodies at 20.

"We have launched the corresponding investigations," prosecutor Adrian Lopez said at a press conference.

"There is a struggle between cells that ... vie for territory in order to control activities related to the production, distribution and consumption of drugs," he added.

The authorities of Michoacan state said they were stepping up security in Uruapan.

A record of nearly 36,000 killings were registered in Mexico last year. Most of the homicides are attributed to criminal gangs.

dpa