By Ken Ellingwood
Los Angeles Times
MEXICO CITY (MCT) — Killers dumped the bodies of more than two dozen men near a well-known monument in the western city of Guadalajara, which last month hosted the Pan-American Games under tight security because of recent drug-related fighting.
Authorities in the state of Jalisco, where Guadalajara is located, said 26 victims were found in three vehicles at a traffic circle that is the site of the 170-foot-high Arches of the Third Millennium, a series of yellow arcs arrayed in a curving pattern above the intersection of two major avenues.
Jalisco state prosecutor Tomas Coronado said a folded banner bearing a message was found at the scene, but he did not disclose its contents. Some news accounts described it as a so-called narco-banner, a handwritten message directed by hit men against rivals and often left next to victims.
The discovery came two days before Saturday's launch of the Guadalajara International Book Fair, a popular known annual gathering.
Jalisco has been rocked by drug violence in recent months involving several groups, including the Zetas and Jalisco-based rivals said to be allied with trafficker Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman, the country's most-wanted suspect, who is based to the northwest in the state of Sinaloa.
The fighting picked up after Mexican troops last year killed Guzman ally Ignacio Coronel Villarreal during a raid in Zapopan, a suburb of Guadalajara. Coronel controlled drug smuggling and manufacturing along a wide stretch of western Mexico that includes Jalisco.
Because of the drug feuding, authorities blanketed Guadalajara, a colonial-era city that is Mexico's second most populous, in tight security for the Pan-Am Games, a quadrennial athletic competition. The two-week event went off without incident.
Jalisco Gov. Emilio Gonzalez used his Twitter feed Thursday to say he was "dismayed and outraged" by the discovery and call for an investigation, though such killings are seldom solved in Mexico.
The dumping of large numbers of bodies has become a familiar feature of Mexico's 5-year-old drug war, which has claimed at least 43,000 victims. On Wednesday, authorities in Sinaloa's capital, Culiacan, found the charred bodies of 17 people in a pair of vehicles parked in the downtown district. Seven other victims were found elsewhere in the state.
In September, gunmen dumped 35 bodies, many of them reportedly marked with a "Z" for Zetas, on a busy boulevard in the port city of Veracruz. Masked men appeared on an Internet video claiming credit for the killings, saying they were seeking to cleanse Veracruz state of the Zetas. They called themselves the "Zeta killers" and claimed to be part of the Jalisco Cartel-New Generation, the Jalisco group believed to be allied with Guzman.
(c)2011 the Los Angeles Times
Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services