June 29, 2006

Severed head found in Acapulco marks grisly trend

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A man's severed head dumped on the
steps of city hall in the popular tourist resort of Acapulco on
Thursday appeared to mark a gruesome upsurge in drug violence
ahead of Mexico's presidential elections.

The head of a man aged about 35 was found with a
handwritten note outside city offices in an area across town
from the tourist strip of hotels and bars.

The note written on an orange card read: "Lazcano, so you
carry on sending more of your idiots." It was signed with the
letter "Z." It was not clear for whom the note was intended.

The Pacific coast playground, which became popular as an
exotic escape for Hollywood stars in the 1950s, is in the
middle of a bloody turf war between two cartels fighting for
control of the lucrative drug trade.

More than two dozen people have been murdered in the battle
this year. Police found the body of a second man dumped
elsewhere in the city on Thursday.

Heavily armed enforcers for the Gulf cartel, dubbed the
"Zetas," are battling a group known as the "Pelones," or
"Baldies," loyal to a drug gang from the western state of

The killing is the latest amid a surge of gruesome
decapitations by warring drug gangs across Mexico, where voters
will choose a new president on Sunday.

Last week, police found the severed heads of four men,
three of them policemen, left in plastic bags in the gritty
border city of Tijuana, south of San Diego, California.

In Acapulco in April, killers left the severed heads of two
policemen outside Guerrero state offices, with a note claiming
the murders as a reprisal for a police crackdown.

Mexican President Vicente Fox declared an all-out war on
drug gangs in January 2005. Since then, more than 1,500 people
have been shot, beaten or suffocated to death by the drug