For the past two years, an Iraqi gangster had a lucrative little auto-theft business going. He'd send one of his men to hail a cab in Baghdad — preferably a new car — and ask for a ride to Dujail. (Dujail is the Iraqi town where Saddam Hussein had 148 boys and men killed in 1982.) When the taxi got to a deserted stretch of road, a group of gang members would appear, kill the driver, bury the body, and sell the car.

Responding to recent tips from fellow cabbies who'd noticed that their numbers had been steadily decreasing, police investigated and made the horrific discovery of a mass grave containing the bodies of the 40 missing drivers. Three men are in custody and have confessed to the crimes, including the suspected gang leader himself. He was arrested while trying to hail a cab from what would presumably have been Driver 41.

Notes the NYT: "One might think that the cabdrivers would have noticed 40 colleagues missing sooner than two years after the disappearances began. But this is Iraq."

Tip your driver well tonight. [NYT, Photo via AP]