September 11, 2012
The turf war between Mexican drug cartels took another grotesque turn, as the bullet-riddled bodies of 16 men were found in an abandoned van beside a road in western Mexico.
The bodies, some of which were naked, showed signs of torture. Some of the men were blindfolded and had both hands and feet tied with ropes.
The words “I am a Templar Knight” were written with a felt tip pen on the chest or on the back of some of the victims.
Another grim message was painted on the red vehicle with a black spray. It read: “Simply Michoacan Family”, local media reported.
“All the bodies had wounds from bullets of various calibres. They were all males and at the moment their identities are unknown,” said Fernando Monreal, a deputy state prosecutor.
The van was found on a highway outside the town of Coyuca de Catalan, near Mexico’s Pacific coast in the state of Guerrero.
The region is entangled in a bloody turf war between two drug cartels, the Michoacan Family and the Knights Templar.
Last month eleven other bodies were found scattered along a road in the same area.
Guerrero is home to the famous tourist resort of Acapulco, which is now racked by ultra-violent drug wars. In October 2011, 7,000 troops were sent into the area to tackle the growing violence and keep the popular seaside town out of the conflict.
The move came as part of the iron grip strategy implemented by the exiting President Felipe Calderon .
Several high profile traffickers were killed or arrested – including Mario Cardenas Guillen, alias “El Gordo”, the leader of the Gulf Cartel.
Approximately 60,000 people have been killed in drug wars between cartels in Mexico over the last six years.
The new elected President, Enrique Pena Nieto, is due to be sworn in on 1 December.