By Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times –
MEXICO CITY — Authorities on Monday discovered 13 bodies dumped at a gas station near the city of Zitacuaro, about 90 miles west of Mexico City in Michoacan state.
The dead included two minors, state prosecutors said. All were male and most had been shot in the head and bore signs of torture. Hand-scrawled threatening messages that were left with the bodies alluded to the fight between rival drug cartels.
Michoacan has been the scene of intense warfare between the state’s once-dominant La Familia gang and a rival offshoot calling itself the Knights Templar. The state is also the first place President Felipe Calderon deployed troops when he launched his offensive against traffickers at the start of his administration in 2006. Michoacan is Calderon’s home state and recently saw regional elections badly marred by traffickers’ threats.
“We are once again news today, nationally and internationally, because of this macabre event,” Zitacuaro Mayor Juan Carlos Campos Ponce told reporters.
In more peaceful times, Zitacuaro was a jumping-off point for tourists observing the famous monarch butterflies who migrate to the region this time of year.