Pubdate: Mon, 10 Jan 2011
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Nicholas Casey


More Than 30 Are Found Slain After Two Days Of Brutality-At Least 16
With Their Heads Severed

The discovery of four more bodies in Acapulco Sunday brought to more
than 30 the number of people found slain after a weekend of violence
in the Mexican resort city, with at least 16 of their bodies found
without their heads.

Authorities early Sunday discovered a body hanging from a bridge on
the main highway between Acapulco and Mexico City, and the bodies of
two other men nearby, one missing its limbs and head. A fourth body
was found elsewhere in the city.

Such brutality, though gruesome, isn't uncommon in Acapulco, once a
popular and safe destination for tourists from around the world. Yet
it remains a major destination for Mexico's multibillion dollar
tourism industry, with officials having maintained throughout the
government's assault on drug traffickers that the violence is
concentrated elsewhere.

Nonetheless the situation in the city has deteriorated. Since a
shootout more than a year ago in which the Mexican navy killed Arturo
Beltran-Leyva, the alleged leader of a powerful drug cartel, the city
has been the epicenter of near constant violence. Officials say
several drug-trafficking groups are struggling to gain control of its
port, the entry point for numerous drugs headed to the U.S. border.

In a scene that bore signs of drug-related conflict, 15 headless
corpses were found early Saturday morning on a sidewalk near a
shopping mall, according to a statement issued by police of Guerrero,
the state in which Acapulco is located. Investigators soon found the
victims' heads in a pile elsewhere. All the dead were young men under
the age of 30, the statement said.

Photographs published by Mexican newspapers showed uniformed men
patrolling the crime scene where the remains of a charred car were
found near the decapitated bodies. News reports said a message was
found near the bodies, claiming to have been left by members of
Mexico's Sinaloa cartel.

In other violence in the city Saturday, six people were found shot
dead in a taxi, while another man was found shot to death in a car. An
additional two young men were gunned down as gunmen drove past them on
an Acapulco street.

Over the weekend, state authorities called for additional security
forces to be sent to the city, and members of the Mexican navy and
military patrolled its streets. The Mexican attorney general's office
said it would begin investigating the killings, and state officials
urged residents and tourists not to panic.

The spate of killings marks the biggest series of incidents in the
port town since September, when a bus load of 20 Mexican men were
kidnapped as they arrived from the nearby state of Michoacan.
Government officials at first suggested the men might have been
connected with the drug trade, something family members denied, saying
the men were on vacation.

Weeks later, 19 of the bodies were discovered in a mass grave on the
outskirts of the city. 
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