41 killed as Mexico scrambles in drug war

July 10, 2011 10:34 am

, MEXICO CITY, Jul 10 – Mexican authorities sent in an extra 1,800 police Saturday to fight the country\’s gruesome and deadly drug war, with at least 41 people slain over the weekend including 10 who were decapitated.

Fully 1,800 federal agents were sent into Michoacan state on Saturday, in a battle there mainly with the Knights Templars, a splinter group of the La Familia drugs cartel.

The reinforcements were backed by 170 vehicles, 15 ambulances and 4 MI and Black Hawk helicopters, the Public Safety office announced.

National Security Council spokesman Alejandro Poire called it a "reinforcement operation faced with the possibility of greater mobilization by organized crime groups."

"They are waging an absurd war, to the death, for control of criminal turf and drug trafficking routes to the United States," he stressed.

The federal government already has about 50,000 army troops and thousands of federal police in its fight against drug cartels. It blames the groups for most of the 37,000 people killed since it started a military offensive against the cartels in December 2006.

And this weekend was no exception to the staggering degree of fearsome bloodletting, at times meant to intimidate and also often inflicted when groups of people refuse to cooperate with drug traffickers.

Police in the northern city of Torreon said Saturday they found the headless bodies of seven men and three women in the back of an abandoned pick-up truck.

Police chief Guillermo Flores told AFP that only one head, belonging to a woman, was found on site, and that the killers had placed it on the truck\’s hood.

The pick-up truck was parked on a highway that goes around Torreon, a city of some 650,000 where two major highways heading north to the United States converge.

The victims had apparently been executed "several days ago" in disparate locations, and their bodies were piled up in the abandoned pick-up truck "in an attempt to sow terror among the citizens of Torreon," the city municipal police said in a statement.

Police have not said if they have suspects yet, but Coahuila state, where Torreon is located, is a battleground for two powerful Mexican drug cartels: the Zetas, founded by former Mexican special forces soldiers, and the Pacific cartel, headed by Joaquin "Chapo" (Shorty) Guzman.

The decapitated bodies were discovered hours after 20 people were killed late Friday when gunmen attacked a local bar in the northern city of Monterrey, Mexico\’s third most important city.

The attackers, who arrived in two pick-up trucks and a car, stormed into a bar in Monterrey\’s busy nightlife district and opened fire on the patrons.

Separately, 11 people were shot dead Friday afternoon in Chalco, a town on the outskirts of Mexico City.


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