The image of the beach resort of Acapulco has taken a new hit from Mexico’s drug violence, with 27 people killed in less than a day, including 14 men whose bodies were found with their heads chopped off at a shopping centre.
Acapulco has seen fierce turf wars between drug gangs, and the bloodshed is scaring some holidaymakers away even though little of the violence happens in tourist areas.
The decapitation killings and most of the other murders that happened in just a few hours from Friday night into Saturday also happened in non-tourism areas. But two police officers were shot to death on a major bayside avenue in front of visitors and locals.
The 14 headless bodies, and a 15th intact corpse, were found by police on a street outside a shopping centre accompanied by written warnings from a drug cartel, authorities said.
Hand-written signs left with the bodies were signed by “El Chapo’s People,” a reference to the Sinaloa cartel, which is headed by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, said Fernando Monreal Leyva, director of investigative police.
The messages indicated the Sinaloa cartel killed the 15 men for trying to intrude on the gang’s turf and extort residents.
Mexico’s drug cartels have increasingly taken to beheading their victims in a grisly show of force, but Saturday’s discovery was the largest single group of decapitation victims found in recent years.
In 2008, a group of 12 decapitated bodies were piled outside the Yucatan state capital of Merida. The same year, nine headless men were discovered in the Guerrero state capital of Chilpancingo.
Also killed Saturday in Acapulco were the two police officers; six people who were shot dead and stuffed in a taxi, their hands and feet bound; and four others elsewhere in the city. Two police officers were wounded when armed men attacked a police post in the city’s Emiliano Zapata district.
The wave of violence in one of Mexico’s biggest resorts was condemned by the federal government.