Police Find 5 Bodies, Severed Head in Mexico

MORELIA, Mexico (AP) - Mexican police on Tuesday found the
remains of six people tortured and shot to death in a western state
that is a focus of the government's war against drug cartels.

In other bloodshed, the body of a slain Texas teenager was found
in a violent northern border city, but authorities had not
determined whether her killing was related to the drug trade.

Police in the western state of Michoacan found the bodies of
five men in a hole on a remote dirt road near the city of
Apatzingan, the state prosecutor's office said. The bodies were
blindfolded, gagged and showed signs of torture and multiple
gunshot wounds - trademarks of drug-related homicides.

Authorities said they also found a severed head belonging to a
sixth person and bullet casings from assault rifles. Mexican drug
traffickers frequently decapitate their victims.

None of the bodies had been identified.

Michoacan has been a major focus of a crackdown on organized
crime launched by President Felipe Calderon after taking office in
late 2006. More than 10,800 people have died in drug violence since
then.

Last month, federal agents arrested 10 mayors across Michoacan
on suspicion of protecting La Familia cartel.

State Secretary Fidel Calderon said Tuesday the Michoacan
government was officially firing more than a dozen state officials
and police chiefs charged with links to organized crime. He added,
however, that three mayors released Monday after spending more than
a month in jail while being investigated will be allowed to return
to office.

In the northern city of Ciudad Juarez, police found the body of
a 19-year-old woman dumped at an intersection with her throat slit.

U.S. Consulate officials identified her as an American citizen
from across the border in El Paso, Texas, said Vladimir Gonzalez, a
spokesman for the Chihuahua state attorney general. Police were
investigating whether her killing was related to drug dealing, but
were also considering other motives.

She was the fourth U.S. citizen slain in Ciudad Juarez this
month. Despite the presence of thousands of soldiers, the city is
one of Mexico's most violent, with more than 800 killings related
to the drug trade this year.

Earlier, Veracruz state prosecutor Salvador Mikel said at least
five people died Monday in several drug-related slayings in the
Gulf coast port of Veracruz. A message pinned to one body warned
police: "The war has hardly begun."

Customs officials announced three major drug seizures that were
made June 22:

-Nearly 1,000 pounds (450 kilos) of cocaine hidden in a shipment
of tires from Colombia, found at the Pacific port of Manzan.

-More than 1,200 pounds (545 kilos) of marijuana, discovered in
the border city of Nuevo Laredo.

-330 pounds (150 kilos) of pseudophedrine pills in a shipment of
medical supplies from Bangladesh, stopped at Mexico City
International Airport. Pseudophedrine, a chemical found in cold
medicines, can be used to make methamphetamine and is banned in
Mexico.


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