Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Tourist City of Acapulco Turns Violent

Monday, March 15, 2010 |

Mexican Port City of Acapulco Hit by New Spate of Violence.

Acapulco, Guerrero -  Five police officers were killed in an armed attack in the southern Mexican port city of Acapulco, where eight other bodies bearing signs of torture have been found in recent hours, authorities said Saturday.

The municipal police were gunned down early Saturday in the community of Tulcingo, part of the Acapulco metropolitan area, while another officer was seriously wounded and has been hospitalized.

Separately, the Public Safety Secretariat in Guerrero state said a total of eight bodies were found Friday night in different parts of Acapulco.

Five of the bodies – all bearing gunshot wounds – were discovered near a road leading to a nearby tourist town. Two of the victims had been decapitated, a common practice among Mexico’s ruthless drug gangs.

Two other bodies – also decapitated – were found on a road, while another person was also found dead on the street with multiple gunshot wounds.

Acapulco is one of Mexico’s main tourist attractions and at this time of year receives large numbers of U.S. college students on spring break.

The state of Guerrero, where Acapulco is located, is one of the main battlegrounds in Mexico’s drug war. Different cartels are fighting for control of that mostly rural region, known as an area where illegal drug crops are grown.

Elsewhere, eight people were killed by a group of gunmen during a birthday party at a ranch in the northwestern Mexican state of Sinaloa, local media reported.

Initial media reports stated that a dozen men traveling in two SUVs arrived at the ranch outside the town of Bachoco, forced their victims to lie face down and then began firing.

Some of the municipal officers were lined up on a wall and shot.

But the Sinaloa state prosecutor’s office said the killings were the result of an attempted robbery gone awry.

A spokesman for the state AG’s office said that “between 10 and 14 people armed with assault rifles” arrived at the ranch in “three or four” vehicles” on Friday afternoon.

The gunmen ordered the close to 40 party-goers to get down on the ground and not to scream, survivors told authorities.

But the would-be robbery victims, fearing they were being targeted in an attack by cartel gunmen, common in that area of the country, tried to flee and it was then that the assailants started firing their weapons, leaving eight dead.

Experts with the Sinaloa Attorney General’s Office found 100 shell casings from AK-47 assault rifles, weapons commonly used by Mexico’s well-armed drug cartels.

Sinaloa, bastion of the like-named drug mob and birthplace of Mexico’s leading kingpins, is among the states hardest hit by the drug-related violence that has claimed more than 17,000 lives nationwide since December 2006, when newly inaugurated President Felipe Calderon militarized the struggle against organized crime.

The Sinaloa organization is the oldest cartel in Mexico and is led by Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman, who was arrested in Guatemala in 1993 and pulled off a Hollywood-style jailbreak when he escaped from the Puente Grande maximum-security prison in the western state of Jalisco on Jan. 19, 2001.

Guzman has been named by Forbes magazine for two years running as one of Mexico’s wealthiest men, with a fortune estimated at $1 billion.

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