Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

5 Killed While Playing Soccer

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 |

5 killed while playing soccer in southern Mexico.

By Merk Stevenson
Associated Press Writer

Mexico City -  Gunmen drove up to a soccer field and shot five men to death as they played early Monday near the Pacific coast resort of Acapulco, police in southern Mexico said.

It was unclear why the five men were playing so late, but the region of Guerrero state is often so hot and humid by day that athletes wait until night to compete. Many people also work unusual hours in the local tourist industry.

The men were playing in the hamlet of Xaltianguis, on the northern outskirts of Acapulco, when gunmen in three vehicles pulled up beside the field and opened fire.

Two of the dead were identified as local men aged 25 and 34. The other three victims had not been identified because relatives quickly took the bodies away.

There was no immediate information on a possible motive for the attack. However, the area around Acapulco has been plagued in recent months by a bloody turf war between rival factions of the Beltran Leyva drug cartel.

Disabled people, women, children and students have all figured among recent victims of violence in the drug war, which has killed more than 22,700 people since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against cartels in December 2006.

Also Monday, Mexican soldiers seized an arsenal of 31 mostly gold- or silver-plated, diamond-encrusted pistols believed to belong to the Valencia gang, allies of the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel, prosecutors said. Photos of the weapons showed apparently flamboyant examples of the sort of gaudily customized weapons favored by some drug gangsters.

Three assault rifles were almost entirely gold-plated.

Identification documents were found at the home on the outskirts of the western city of Guadalajara in the name of Oscar Nava Valencia.

The Attorney General's Office said he is a leader of the Valencia gang who has worked with Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

In the northern state of Nuevo Leon, authorities announced Monday that three people had been arrested for negligence in the deaths of five people killed Sunday in a stampede at a fair in the town of Guadalupe, a suburb of the industrial city of Monterrey.

Nuevo Leon state Attorney General Alejandro Garza y Garza said those arrested were a person who was in charge of security and two organizers of the fair. He said all could be released on bail.

On Mexico's southern Pacific coast, the Mexican navy announced a big drug haul. It said a Mexican fishing boat and its five-member crew had been captured while transporting nearly 5,300 pounds (2,400 kilograms) of cocaine.

The 78-foot (24-meter) boat was detained April 27 in international waters, based on information from U.S. officials. Authorities found 105 bales of cocaine in hidden compartments in the boat's fuel tanks.

The boat presumably picked up the drugs in Colombia.

On Sunday, police said they captured a man believed to be the leader of the Zetas drug gang in the southern state of Chiapas.

Prosecutors in neighboring Tabasco state said suspect Pablo Martinez Rojas was detained near the border with Chiapas, along with four alleged accomplices.

They said the suspects carried out killings and kidnappings for the Zetas, a gang founded by army deserters.

Three assault rifles and pistols were found in the men's possession.

Drug trafficking is considered a federal crime, but the Tabasco state authorities said the detentions show that state authorities are increasingly playing a role in combating drug gangs.

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