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Drug war body count soaring in Mexico

The Americas Post - Mexico is starting to look the way it did when the Aztecs were in charge

Mexican police recovered 18 decapitated and dismembered bodies  near  Guadalajara Wednesday, in what appeared to be the latest atrocity by the country’s most brutal drug cartel.

Believed to be the work of the Zetas cartel, it was one of the biggest mass beheadings in the recent history of Mexico, where decapitations have become a daily occurrence.

The bodies and heads were packed into two vehicles left on the side of a highway in the small town of Ixtlahuacan de los Membrillos, according to the chief prosecutor for the state of Jalisco, Tomas Coronado.

Some of the bodies had been refrigerated before they were dumped, Coronado reported.  A policeman at the scene said some victims were so badly mutilated that officers could not determine whether they were male or female.

The officer said a note by the bodies was signed by the Zetas gang, a criminal militia led by former Mexican soldiers and blamed for some of the worst atrocities in Mexico’s drug war.

Guadalajara, known for high-tech industry, mariachi and tequila, has been a center of operations for drug traffickers since the 1980s.  But violence has now exploded in the once-tranquil city as the Zetas moved in to challenge the turf of other gangs in western Mexico.  Soldiers arrested a high-ranking member of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel in the city in March, causing his supporters to block streets with 25 burning cars and trucks.

Ixtlahuacan de los Membrillos lies 18 miles south of the center of Guadalajara on the road to Lake Chapala, a site popular with foreign tourists and American retirees.

Attacks between the Zetas and their rivals have flared up across Mexico since the beginning of the year.  On Friday, nine corpses were hanged from a bridge in the border city of Nuevo Laredo just hours before 14 bodies were dismembered and shoved into garbage bags and ice boxes.  Three more journalists were murdered as well.  Five days of intense battles in western Sinaloa state last week also left 34 dead, adding to the body count in Mexico’s drug war, which has killed over 50,000 people in the past five years.