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FORT SAM HOUSTON, TX — The leadership of US Southern Command is struggling to explain recent and mysterious murders in the uncharted jungles of South America.

US military construction in the regions of Honduras and Guatemala has nearly doubled in the last two years under the auspices of the drug war, despite protests from several ruling governments in the region.

The increase in activity has led to frequent clashing between American troops and drug traffickers in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Belize — yet the rigors of  counter-narcotics operations seem to pale in comparison to the newest threat.

Command Sergeant Major of United States Army South’s Honduras unit, CSM Alex Fossum, was hesitant to release any information about the attack, as the G-2 Intelligence section is still struggling to piece together the information they’ve gained.

“We had sent out a small squad on a routine patrol, in the hopes of snagging a few kilos of cocaine,” said Fossum, between sips of putrid coffee, in an interview yesterday. “Nothing special; we do it all the time. However, they failed to return from the mission. After repeated attempts to contact them, we sent out another squad to recon their last known position…”

Fossum stares off into the distance for a moment, the sorrow and confusion in his eyes painfully evident.

“They found them alright. Strung up from trees by their ankles, completely skinned. Some of them were missing skulls and spinal columns. They were just left there. We’ve seen those drug lords do some horrible things, but this is an entirely new level of nasty.”

Reluctant to tell any more, Fossum stated simply before concluding the interview, “the thing is, there’s something out there, and it ain’t no man.”

Leading the squad that discovered the mutilated corpses was Sergeant First Class Jeffrey “Dutch” Breckner, who was similarly jolted by the incident.

“After we cut the bodies down, we began to do a perimeter scan, for anything that might lead to the apprehension of the enemy,” said Breckner.

“We move, 5 meter spread, no sound. Three hours of digging through underbrush later, all we found was some sort of mask, covered in a bright green glowing fluid. Wasn’t like any standard issue military equipment I’ve ever seen before, but it seemed to be some sort of advanced thermal imaging unit. I couldn’t read the chickenscratch in the LEDs, but it looked like Chinese to me. Maybe the chinks [sic] are working with the narcos now?”

United States Army South’s G-2 denied any claims that the mask was in fact Chinese, as confirmed by their linguistics experts. The experts were unable to decipher it, just staring blankly at the nine-decimal system code.

CIA operatives who appeared on scene shortly after the incident were quick to confiscate the device and offered no explanation as to what significance the mask held. After debriefing SFC Breckner, they confirmed that the neon green fluid discovered on the mask was actually blood, and insisted that “if it bleeds, we can kill it.”

The CIA team also ordered the squad to get to the chopper so a full debrief could be conducted but they have not yet returned.