MONTERREY, Mexico – Mexican soldiers and agents attached to the Nuevo Leon Attorney General’s Office detained 26 municipal police officers for their alleged role in the killing of two of the state governor’s bodyguards, officials told Efe.
The military personnel and members of Nuevo Leon’s State Investigations Agency, or AEI, took over the police installations in Zuazua – a town about 25 kilometers (15 miles) north of Monterrey – and arrested 26 people, including four traffic cops, a police spokesman confirmed.
The detainees were transferred to the AEI and questioned about Wednesday’s killing in Monterrey of two of Gov. Rodrigo Medina’s bodyguards, one of whom lived with his family in Zuazua.
The mutilated bodies were found Wednesday along with a message accusing the bodyguards of being on the payroll of the Los Zetas cartel, considered Mexico’s most violent criminal organization.
In addition to the two bodyguards, another 31 people were killed Wednesday in the Monterrey metropolitan area, a one-day record in that northern industrial city.
Monterrey has suffered a unprecedented wave of violence attributed to a brutal turf war pitting the Gulf, Sinaloa and La Familia Michoacana cartels against Los Zetas for control of that coveted drug-smuggling corridor.
Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, known as “El Lazca,” deserted from the Mexican army in 1999 and formed Los Zetas with three other soldiers, all members of an elite special operations unit, becoming the armed wing of the Gulf drug cartel.
After several years on the payroll of the Gulf cartel, Los Zetas went into the drug business on their own account and now control several lucrative territories.
A total of 15,270 people were killed in drug-related violence in Mexico last year, and nearly 40,000 people have died since President Felipe Calderon militarized the struggle against the country’s cartels shortly after taking office in December 2006. EFE