updated 4/4/2009 9:57:09 PM ET 2009-04-05T01:57:09

Eleven people were found shot to death around Mexico on Saturday, some bearing signs of torture and left with threatening messages emblematic of drug violence.

Four of the victims were found in a car in the western city of Apatzingan, along with a message threatening the Zetas, a group of hit men for the Gulf drug cartel. The message was signed La Familia, a drug gang battling for territory in western Michoacan state.

Another slain man was found in the western port city of Lazaro Cardenas, also with a threatening message from La Familia to the Zetas.

A sixth man was found on a highway in the city of Morelia. He had been shot in the head three times and left with a T-shirt pulled over his head and his hands cuffed behind his back. A seventh was found shot to death in the town of Tacambaro.

La Familia was once considered aligned with the powerful Gulf cartel, but it was named as a separate gang in a government list of most-wanted drug trafficking suspects released last month.

President Felipe Calderon's government has attributed fractures in the cartels to a military crackdown, saying the arrest of drug kingpins has set off internal battles for control that have led to Mexico's sharp surge in drug-related violence.

Chief detective slain
Four other bodies were found around the southern Pacific coast state of Guerrero, including two men left in the trunk of a car in the resort town of Zihuatanejo. The two were blindfolded and had their hands tied behind their backs, according to a police report.

Another man was found burned on a highway linking Mexico City to the resort city of Acapulco and a fourth died in a shootout in the city of Chilpancingo.

Mexico's drug violence has claimed 9,000 lives since Calderon took office in 2006.

Meanwhile, the chief homicide detective in western Jalisco state was killed on Friday. Alberto Rayas Rodriguez, 37, was on his way to a government event when the two gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on his car.

Last month, Rayas Rodriguez had participated in the dismantling of a Zeta cell that led to the arrest of five suspects.

Alleged cartel leader ordered held
A federal judge, meanwhile, ordered an alleged leader of the Juarez cartel, Vicente Carrillo Leyva, held for 40 days pending an investigation into organized-crime charges, the Attorney General's Office said in a statement Saturday.

Carrillo Leyva allegedly inherited a top position in the Juarez cartel from his father Amado Carrillo Fuentes, who was considered Mexico's No. 1 drug trafficker when he died in 1997 during plastic surgery to change his appearance.

Carrillo Leyva was arrested Wednesday while exercising in a Mexico City park.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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