Eight people died Wednesday in two separate incidents of gangland violence in the western Mexican state of Michoacan, authorities said.
Five men were gunned down in the wee hours while walking down a street in the town of Yurecuaro, a source in the state Attorney General’s Office said.
The assailants were armed with assault rifles, the weapon of choice for Mexico’s drug cartels. None of the four Yurecuaro victims who have been identified so far is known to have had links to organized crime, the source said.
Police in Morelia, the state capital, found the bodies of three men who were bound, gagged and blindfolded.
Messages pinned to the chests of two of the victims indicated the killings were an act of reprisal of the Los Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar) drug gang against the rival La Familia Michoacana.
The Caballeros group comprises former La Familia members who splintered from the main organization after then-boss Nazario Moreno died in a December 2010 confrontation with federal police.
La Familia’s main business was manufacturing synthetic drugs such as crystal meth for export to the United States, using ingredients smuggled in through Michoacan’s Pacific ports.
The state is also home to significant plantations of marijuana and opium poppies.
Los Caballeros Templarios, like La Familia, requires members to adhere to a code of conduct and portrays itself as working for the good of the community despite its criminal activities.