Saturday, June 18, 2011

Eight Bodies Found in Mexican Port City

MEXICO CITY – The bodies of eight men were found Saturday in three locations in the western Mexican port city of Lazaro Cardenas in an apparent settling of scores between rival drug gangs in Michoacan state, officials said.

The dead men had their hands and feet tied and each had been shot in the head execution-style. Signs were also left alongside the corpses indicating the killings were acts of vengeance.

Michoacan is the home base of the La Familia Michoacana cartel, which grew powerful after its emergence in 2006 but has recently been wracked by a power struggle stemming from the death in late 2010 of kingpin Nazario Moreno.

Moreno was killed in Michoacan in December after a two-day gun battle with security forces.

La Familia has been split into followers of Jesus Mendez and Enrique Plancarte Solis, who founded the Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar) gang to battle Mendez’s enforcers.

The gangs that operate in Michoacan are mostly involved in drug trafficking, but they also carry out kidnappings and run extortion rackets.

La Familia also has expanded its activities into the states of Guerrero, Jalisco, Guanajuato and Mexico.

Elsewhere, two buses and several cars were torched Friday night on a main road and the downtown area of the tourist city of Patzcuaro to impede police operations.

Mexico’s drug gangs frequently use vehicles as barricades during attacks or gun battles to prevent police reinforcements from arriving at the scene.

Authorities said they do not know which criminal organization was responsible for the vehicle burnings, in which no victims were reported.

The violence in the state coincides with the start of a major youth soccer tournament that began Saturday and will run until July 10 in six cities across Mexico, including Morelia, Michoacan’s capital.

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.

Calderon has deployed tens of thousands of soldiers and Federal Police officers across the country to combat drug cartels and other criminal organizations.

Latin American Herald Tribune

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