The bodies of 13 murder victims, all males including 3 minors, were discovered in the pre-dawn hours of Monday in the city of Zitácuaro, Michoacan. The bodies of the men, who appeared to have been executed elsewhere, were left in a pile on the side of the highway that leads to the city of Huetamo, also in Michoacan.
Both cities are located in the Tierra Caliente region where the states of Michoacan, Guerrero and Mexico (EdoMex) meet. This area has been hotly contested by various organized criminal groups and Zitacuaro was also the site of an ambush by La Familia Michoacana that resulted in the deaths of 13 federal police officers.
All 13 victims appeared to have been executed by a gunshot to the head and all exhibited signs of torture.
At least 2 banners containing messages addressed to a person called “El Guero” from Huetamo were left with the bodies.
According to state ministerial police officials in charge of the investigation of the murders the men appear to be residents of the municipality of Huetamo, although their names have yet to be released.
According to Juan Carlos Campos Ponce, the mayor of Zitacuaro, the violence is a result of the conflict among rival groups for control of the municipalities along highway 51, including Zitacuaro, Tuzuntla, Tiquicheo and Huetamo.
“El Guero” may refer to a Caballero Templario lieutenant that controls Huetamo and does not appear to be directed to Gamaliel Aguirre Tavira “El Guero Huetamo”, an associate of La Barbie who was arrested in 2010 and is in now imprisoned.
Although the exact contents of the messages on the banners was not revealed, the photograph above of one banner shows what appears to be a signature of FMZ, which may refer to a La Familia Michoacana-Zeta alliance in the region.
La Familia Michoacana cells are active in the state Of Mexico, or Edomex, where they are involved in kidnapping, extortion and drug dealing. La Familia is also in a vicious fight in the northern Guerrero cities of Taxco and Iguala, where they are attempting to take control away from a veteran northern Guerrrero organized criminal group known as "Los Rojos".
The video below posted on YouTube in December shows La Familia sicarios interrogating a member of Los Rojos in Guerrero. La Familia may be gaining strength in northern Guerrero and la Tierra Caliente region of Michoacan and Guerrero.