The bullet-riddled, bound bodies of seven men were dumped Sunday at a downtown bus stop in the Pacific resort town of Zihuatanejo, police said, as drug violence claimed at least 20 people this weekend along a stretch of coastal tourist destinations.
A photograph published in the local newspaper El Diario de Zihuatanejo showed signed messages lying near or on top of the bloody, half-naked men, whose feet were tied to a street pole. The messages claimed to be from The Knights Templar, an offshoot of the pseudo-religious La Familia drug cartel. Drug gangs are known for leaving threatening messages at crime scenes.
Guerrero state police said agents found the bodies early Sunday in the beach town, which is popular with both Mexican and U.S. tourists. Less than two weeks ago, 35 tortured bodies were dumped onto a main avenue in the Gulf coast seaport of Veracruz.
Police did not suggest any motives for Sunday's crime, but drug cartels have been battling each other in Pacific coast resort cities.
Police reported another homicide in Zihuatanejo hours before the bodies were dumped.
In Acapulco, just to the south of Zihuatanejo, 10 men and two women were killed in separate attacks Saturday and early Sunday, including one in which gunmen stormed a bar and shot a couple dead, police said in a statement.
Three other young men were gunned down inside a taxi cab on a popular avenue of Acapulco Saturday, police said Sunday in a news release.
Also, two gunmen shot to death a 22-year-old man near a Walmart store on the beachside avenue Costera Miguel Aleman on Saturday.
Authorities said they don't know whether the attacks are related.
Drug-related crime has increased in Acapulco and other cities in the southwestern state of Guerrero since the arrest of Edgar "La Barbie" Valdez, a Texas native captured last year who is suspected of trying to seize control of the Beltran Leyva cartel following the death of gang leader Arturo Beltran Leyva.
Mexican officials have said that the remnants of the Beltran Leyva gang appear to be fighting the Knights Templar and the Zetas cartel in Guerrero. In addition, there is evidence that Mexico's most-wanted drug lord, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, is moving to take back strongholds of his former allies, the Beltran Leyva cartel, the officials said.
Guerrero police chief Ramon Almonte told The Associated Press that agents have found posters at homicide scenes with threatening messages signed by the four cartels plus smaller, local gangs that work as enforcement wings.
On the Pacific coast to the north, gunmen killed three women and two men early Sunday as the victims were driving away from a supermarket in a busy area of Mazatlan city, Sinaloa's Attorney General's Office said in a statement.
Two severed heads in capital
In Mexico City, meanwhile, police found two severed human heads on a street near a major military base Monday.
It was the first multiple decapitation in the capital since January 2008, when two heads were found near the city's international airport. Two heads were also found in the same vicinity in December 2007. Those killings were believed to be related to a drug shipment that had been seized at the airport.
The office of Mexico City Attorney General Miguel Mancera said in a statement that one of the heads found Monday had been placed on the hood of a sport utility vehicle, and the other was found on a nearby sidewalk.
The heads were found just before dawn on the side of a busy ring road across from the army's headquarters at Military Camp 1.
Mancera was quoted by local news media as saying Monday that the heads were accompanied by a note referring to the "Mano con Ojos" or "Hand with Eyes" drug gang. The organization has been active in the State of Mexico, which borders Mexico City, and in some southern districts of the capital. Mancera gave no details of what the message said.
The heads were found on a busy ring road across from the army's national headquarters at Military Camp 1.
The Hand with Eyes gang formed after the arrest of Edgar Valdez, aka "La Barbie," a top assassin for the Beltran Leyva cartel until he was detained in 2010.
The alleged leader of the Hand with Eyes, Oscar Osvaldo Garcia Montoya, 36, was arrested in July and told prosecutors he helped carry out or ordered more than 600 killings.