Wed, Dec 24, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Mexican army vows crackdown after weekend beheading of eight soldiers

AFP , CHILPANCINGO, MEXICO

Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared on Monday that the deaths of eight decapitated soldiers “have not been in vain,” and vowed to leave no stone unturned in hunting down the perpetrators of this latest act of violence in Mexico’s brutal drug war.

Speaking in Mexico City, Calderon said that his government would “spare no effort to bring to justice those responsible for these cowardly acts.”

Meanwhile, prosecutors in Chilpancingo, the capital of the southern state of Guerrero said late on Monday that soldiers had detained seven suspects in the decapitations.

Residents of Chilpancingo found the heads on a busy city street before dawn, and hours later located the bodies several kilometers away, local police said.

“For each member that you kill, we are going to kill 10 of yours,” read a sign that was found next to the heads.

It was signed “You know who,” a state security official said.

A top Mexican military officer warned on Monday that it was a “grave mistake” for criminals in the illegal drug trade to have killed the eight soldiers, who were executed along with one civilian, a lawyer.

The nine heads were found in plastic bags in Guerrero early on Sunday.

“The criminals made a grave mistake with this audacious crime,” said the local regional commander, Enrique Jorge Alonso, speaking at a ceremony on Monday honoring the slain soldiers.

The beheading was “an offense against the [government] institutions and especially to those who wear a military uniform,” said Alonso, speaking for Mexican Defense Secretary Guillermo Galvan.

The attack was a “sick and despicable act of revenge,” Alonso said.

“There will not be the least concession ... and we will not rest until we have put these criminals where they belong,” he said.

The soldiers were apparently kidnapped late on Saturday as they left their base in Chilpancingo.

The beheadings were the drug cartel’s answer to the Friday slaying of three drug cartel members in a clash with soldiers in the town of Teloloapan, the daily La Jornada reported, citing security sources.

Feuding drug cartels have engaged in a fierce battle to dominate Guerrero state.

Decapitated victims were found there at least three times in the past two years. Two of those killed were federal police.

Separately, 19 people were killed overnight Sunday to Monday in the northern state of Chihuahua in drug related violence, state officials said.

They include 14 people found dead in different parts of Ciudad Juarez, the most violent city in the country.

Those include a couple, both 25, who were killed in a hail of 49 gunshots, said Alejandro Pariente with the Chihuahua state prosecutor’s office.

Authorities blame most of the violence there to an ongoing war between the Ciudad Juarez drug cartel — led by Vicente Carrillo Fuentes — and the rival Sinaloa drug cartel led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman for control of the city, one of the most lucrative points to smuggle drugs into the US.

More than 5,300 people have been killed this year across the country in a wave of drug-related attacks, despite a government clampdown on cartels.

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