The head of a police chief was abandoned in an ice cooler in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua, and 16 others died in suspected drug attacks overnight, authorities said on Monday.
Mexican police and soldiers are battling a wave of drug-related violence across the country, particularly in northern border areas, with more than 5,300 killed last year.
“Hitmen cut off commander Martin Castro’s head and left it in an ice cooler in front of the local police station,” state justice authorities said.
The head was left in the town of Praxedis with a message from the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel, a statement said.
The police commander was abducted on Saturday, along with five other police officers and a civilian, only five days after starting his job.
Six bodies in police uniforms bearing signs of torture and gunshot wounds were found on Monday in a street in the state capital, Chihuahua, officials said.
Hitmen killed four men in separate attacks in the violent border city of Ciudad Juarez, while six others, including a woman, were found dead in other towns in northern Chihuahua state.
The government launched a clampdown on drug-related violence more than two years ago involving the deployment of around 36,000 troops across the country.