Beheadings in Acapulco Point to Sinaloa Cartel

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A grisly weekend killing spree left 28 people dead, 16 of them decapitated, in the Mexican resort city of Acapulco, Guerrero. Several notes left with the bodies were attributed to Joaquin Guzman Loera, alias “El Chapo,” leader of the Sinaloa Cartel.

Acapulco is currently seeing a turf war between at least three Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs), including the Sinaloa Cartel, the Zetas and the Familia Michoacana. A faction of the Beltran-Leyva Organization has also maintained a cell in the embattled city. 

Fifteen decapitated men were found early morning Sunday dumped outside a mall, with a note that read, “For those who attempt to enter this plaza, this is what will happen to you. Sincerely, the strongest cartel, El Chapo Guzman.”

Local newspaper Sur de Acapulco reports that another note left on the scene said, “The general citizenry shall no longer be charged cuotas,” a reference to the extortion taxes that local businesses must pay to area strongmen. In an interview with the Christian Science Monitor, security analyst Pedro Isnardo de la Cruz said that neighborhood extortion is usually linked to the Zetas and the Familia, and less so with the Sinaloa Cartel, awash in money from drug trafficking. 

Saturday night, another six bodies were found in a taxi cab, two of them with cut throats and all of them shot point-blank. By Sunday morning authorities had found seven other bodies across the city and the surrounding suburbs. These included three youths apparently kidnapped at a local night club, the Alebrije: one was beheaded and another one hung from a bridge over a highway. 

Acapulco has seen rising violence rates as rival DTOs have struggled to control the city. It is not a major commercial port on the same scale as Lazaro Cardenas, another oceanside community fiercely contested by the Familia Michoacana and its rivals. But Acapulco still sees high levels of boat traffic, making the city extremely attractive for smugglers. The use of go-fast boats for cocaine shipments is employed frequently here, as traffickers take advantage of the coastline’s natural harbors and lagoons.

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