Two separate possible drug-related incidents took place on Saturday with the discovery of the remains of at least six people in a ditch near the seaside of Mexico’s Acapulco in Guerreo, the country’s bloodiest state.
An official said that the bodies had been buried between 5 and 20 days ago in a ditch that fed rain water into one of Acapulco’s main bays, according to Acapulco prosecutor Ricardo Quevedo.
Sparsely populated Guerrero has led the nation in firearm killings for most of the past six years as heroin production for the US market has spiked in an area that is being fought over by a growing number of drug gangs.
Violence has also been fed by turf wars over the distribution of drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine in cities like Acapulco.
There were nearly 1,500 recorded firearms murders in Guerrero last year, according to government data, and hundreds more people have disappeared, with many found in mass graves.
Violence in Mexico has spiked during the past year to the highest rates since 2011 and the worst during the presidency of Enrique Pena Nieto, who took office in late 2012.
Also on Saturday, two top drug traffickers have been killed in pre-dawn shootouts with federal forces in the northern Mexico border state of Tamaulipas, authorities reported.
The Tamaulipas security spokesman’s office said the men were killed in separate confrontations, which left highways littered with burned-out vehicles.
Julian Loisa Salinas, better known as “Comandante Toro” and also known as Juan Manuel Loisa Salinas, was killed in a clash with marines in Reynosa, a city across the border from McAllen, Texas.
Loisa Salinas reportedly was the Gulf cartel’s local leader in Reynosa. Authorities had tried to capture him a number of times, leading to gunbattles with his gang. In early April, two U.S. citizens were reported wounded in one such gunfight.
On Saturday, photos showed burned-out cars, trucks and buses littering streets in Reynosa. State authorities said his supporters had set fires and tried to block roads in an unsuccessful effort to help him escape.
Luis Alberto Rodriguez, the state security spokesman, said there were a total of 32 highway and street blockades, 11 of which were erected using burning vehicles. Such vehicles are usually hijacked from their owners by armed men and then set on fire.
Nine businesses were burned and 18 vacant lots were set on fire.
Also Saturday, the local leader for the rival Zetas cartel in Tamaulipas’ capital, Ciudad Victoria, was killed in a similar shootout farther south. He was tentatively identified as Francisco “Pancho” Carreon.
The two were believed to be behind much of the recent violence in Tamaulipas.