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25 bodies found in two Mexican states

August 17, 2013|By Richard Fausset
  • The body of a victim lies at the side of the road after a Mexican navy vice admiral was ambushed in his SUV in Michoacan state on July 28.
The body of a victim lies at the side of the road after a Mexican navy vice admiral… (Agence France-Presse /…)

MEXICO CITY — Twenty-five people have been found dead, the apparent victims of at least three massacres in the troubled southwestern Mexican states of Guerrero and Michoacan, according to government and media reports Saturday.

Regional officials thus far have given only a few details about the bodies discovered in three locales. The slayings underscore the challenge facing President Enrique Peña Nieto as he tries to restore order in an increasingly lawless region just a few hours’ drive from the Mexican capital.

Both states, with their remote and sometimes rugged terrain, have a long history of banditry and drug cartel influence. But the chaos has mounted in swaths of the countryside in recent months, as peasant self-defense militias have sprung up to fight extortionate drug cartel members. Some have accused the militias themselves of having ties to rival drug gangs.

In some areas, local government officials have fled. In other regions, whole villages have been emptied of people who have moved to what they hope is safer environs.

Mexican military patrols are heavily deployed in both states. In July, a few weeks after Peña Nieto increased the military presence in Michoacan, a number of gun battles broke out between soldiers and what were presumed to be drug cartel members as an apparent reaction to the crackdown. A number of soldiers and criminals were reported killed. In one incident, a vice admiral in the Mexican navy was fatally shot when his SUV was ambushed on a rural road.

In the violence reported Saturday, the first group of eight bodies was found in the community of Los Cajones in the northern part of Guerrero. According a statement released by the state attorney general’s office, five men in military-style clothing were discovered with gunshot wounds in the back of a Ford pickup truck. Three more male bodies were also found, prosecutors said, presumably nearby. None of the men were identified. Authorities said they appeared to be between 20 and 30 years old.

Another group of eight bodies was found in the Guerrero municipality of Taxco de Alarcon, about a three-hour drive west of Los Cajones, according to the news service Milenio.

In Michoacan, nine people were found Saturday morning in the municipality of Tepalcatepec, according to media reports. The Mexico City newspaper El Universal reported that the bodies bore signs of torture.

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Twitter: @richardfausset

richard.fausset@latimes.com

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