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Weekend homicide wave hits Mexican capital and suburbs

January 14, 2013|By Daniel Hernandez

MEXICO CITY — Mexico's capital and its sprawling suburbs in neighboring Mexico state notched at least 32 violent homicides over the weekend, in what authorities described as an atypical wave of violence for the urban core of the country.

Authorities and city political leaders said there were no indications so far that the rash of killings were related to Mexico's powerful organized-crime cartels, but investigations were ongoing on Monday.

Suspected narco-related killings have increased in recent weeks in north-central Mexico and in persistent cartel battlegrounds such as Jalisco and Nuevo Leon states, but the capital has mostly avoided the kind of bloody massacres that characterize Mexico's drug war.

By Monday, doubts about the nature of the metropolitan region's weekend homicides were aired on social media and by news accounts that pointed to cartel-like tactics in some of the deaths.

In Mexico state, which rings the Federal District on three sides, at least 10 people were killed during the weekend, including five unidentified men whose dismembered bodies were found in plastic bags near the capital city, Toluca, reports said.

In two other cases in Mexico state municipalities, the remains of at least five other people were also found. There were no official statements on the weekend killings from the statehouse in Toluca.

Within the Federal District, as Mexico City is formally known, 22 people were killed in various incidents between Friday evening and Monday morning, said Atty. Gen. Rodolfo Rios. Most of the deaths were gun-related but at least one person was asphyxiated and one man was beaten to death in a fight outside a downtown bar, officials said.

In two cases in the boroughs of Tlahuac and Iztacalco, authorities were still determining whether all of the six deaths were a result of conflict between drug dealers, Asst. Atty. Gen. Edmundo Garrido said in a radio interview Monday. The victims were still unidentified.

Garrido said the city averages about two killings a day, a rate that he said has remained steady over the last three years. The weekend's deaths, however, mark an average of a little more than 6.5 homicides over three days. "This is not common for the Federal District," Garrido said.

The killings take place in the jittery so-called transition period between administrations. The six-year terms began in early December at the federal and local levels.

The new government of Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera launched a weapons-exchange program aimed at reducing violent crime in the poor boroughs of Iztapalapa and Gustavo A. Madero. More than 1,000 firearms have been turned in since Christmas.

In Mexico state, residents in some of the most crime-stricken municipalities have taken to the streets to protest growing incidents of violence.

This month, confidence-control tests for the state police force found 2,400 agents deemed unfit for duty among 18,900 tested. Of those, 800 were declared unfit for "serious faults" such as leaking information to organized-crime groups, officials said.

In a Monday column in the Mexico City daily El Universal, journalist Ricardo Aleman called the weekend's homicide tally a sobering wake-up call for the city.

"It's clear that the [Mancera administration], the press, and society are being overwhelmed by a reality that no one has wanted to acknowledge for years," Aleman wrote. "Criminal violence, executions, cartel adjustments, revenge and vendettas between criminal mafias are already among the capital's residents."

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