TUXTLA GUTIERREZ, Mexico (AP) - Police in southern Mexico said Monday they arrested a gang of at least six drug cartel assassins, including two alleged hit women, who were allegedly commanded by top police officers.
The police chief, two commanders and a former public safety director in the city of Tapachula, near the Guatemala border, were also detained on suspicion of leading the hit gang.
They suspects allegedly worked for the Zetas, a gang of enforcers linked to the Gulf cartel. Police and soldiers seized dozens of grenades and assault rifles during the weekend raid in which the alleged assassins were captured, state prosecutors said.
The arrests came as drug corruption scandals blossomed across Mexico - in states far from the U.S. border region, where the drug battles have long been concentrated.
In Morelos, just outside Mexico City, prosecutors announced that the top state security official and the police chief in the state capital, Cuernavaca, were ordered held for 40 days on suspicion of aiding the Beltran Leyva cartel. Two other people were also ordered held in the case.
Meanwhile a prominent senator from Zacatecas state called a news conference to deny any knowledge of a large load of marijuana found earlier this year at a warehouse belonging to his brother.
On Jan. 22, army troops acting on a tip raided the brother's chile-drying warehouse and found people loading marijuana onto trucks. More than 11.4 tons of the drug were seized at the plant, near the city of Fresnillo.
"My brother said the (locks) had been broken, and he reported it to police," Sen. Ricardo Monreal told reporters Monday in Mexico City. The brother, Candido Monreal, has not been charged in the case.
The senator accused the Zacatecas government of being completely infiltrated by traffickers, and said he has resigned from the leftist Democratic Revolution Party, which governs the state, to protest what he called a smear campaign against him.
Government officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Zacatecas is the same state where armed men staged a bold raid on a prison over the weekend that freed 53 suspects, dozens of them linked to the Gulf cartel. Gov. Amalia Garcia said Saturday that prison guards were likely complicit.
Also Monday, police in the southern state of Guerrero found the severed heads of three men in an ice chest left on the side of a highway near the resort of Zihuatanejo. The cooler was wrapped in tape and a message was attached, but police did not reveal what it said.
The men's decapitated bodies were found about a mile (2 kilometers) away in an abandoned taxi, the state Public Safety department said. Some of the bodies had their hands bound behind their backs and showed signs of torture.
More than 10,750 people have been killed in drug violence during the last 2 1/2 years.
Associated Press writer Mark Stevenson contributed to this report from Mexico City.
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