MEXICO CITY – Mexican authorities in this capital on Sunday said they had identified the four bodies found on the weekend in the back of an SUV abandoned on a Mexico City street along with a message that said the men had been killed “for being kidnappers.”
One of the bodies is apparently that of an alleged capo of the Beltran Leyva drug cartel.
A spokesman for the Federal District Attorney’s office told Efe that the dead men were Hector Saldaña Perales, 40; Alan Saldaña Perales, 36 and the brother of Hector; Carlos Saldaña Rodriguez, a half-brother of the first two men; and Cesar Rodriguez.
Hector Saldaña, alias “El Negro Saldaña,” is the alleged head of the Beltran Leyva cartel in the state of Nuevo Leon, and he had established his center of operations in the municipality of San Pedro in the greater Monterrey urban area.
According to local media, Saldaña had survived an attempted hit in 2004 and was the main distributor of drugs in Monterrey. He was also the man who allegedly ordered that Mauricio Fernandez, the current mayor of San Pedro, be murdered.
The bodies were found Saturday after police received a tip that a vehicle had been parked badly in Mexico City’s Daniel Garza neighborhood, the District Attorney’s Office said.
The SUV, which had tags from the northern state of Nuevo Leon and had not been reported stolen, contained four bodies that “have still not been identified, without belongings, between 35 and 40 years (of age)” along with two messages, the District Attorney’s Office said at the time.
The word “kidnapper” had been written with a black marker on the backs of three of the four victims, prosecutors said, adding that one of the messages said “For being kidnappers, boss of bosses.”
The bodies were taken to the morgue, where medical examiners will determine the cause of death.
Fernandez, the new mayor of San Pedro, said in his inaugural address Saturday that the body of Jose Francisco Saldaña Perales, a suspected Beltran Leyva drug cartel member responsible for kidnappings and drug sales in the city, had been found in the Federal District.
Apparently, the body Fernandez was referring to eventually proved to be Hector Saldaña’s.
Nearly a dozen people have been executed in the same manner in recent weeks in Guerrero, Morelos and Mexico states.
Reports last month said “The Boss of Bosses” was Arturo Beltran Leyva, who leads a splinter group of the Sinaloa drug cartel along with his brothers.
Gunmen in southern Mexico, meanwhile, opened fire and threw grenades at several police posts in Guerrero state.
Armed men riding in two SUVs threw grenades early Saturday at a federal police post in La Venta, damaging several patrol cars but not injuring any officers, the Guerrero Public Safety Secretariat said.
Gunmen fired shots and threw two grenades at a federal police post in the city of Tecpan de Galeana, located 30 kilometers (about 19 miles) from Zihuatanejo, but none of the officers on duty was injured.
Automatic weapons fire and two grenades hit the Guerrero state police barracks in Cayaquitos, located in Tecpan de Gale
ana, but officers managed to repel the assailants.
Police units were placed on alert across the state in case of further attacks.
Mexico has been plagued in recent years by drug-related violence, with powerful cartels battling each other and the security forces, as rival gangs vie for control of lucrative smuggling and distribution routes.
Armed groups linked to Mexico’s drug cartels murdered around 1,500 people in 2006 and 2,700 people in 2007, with the 2008 death toll soaring to more than 6,000.
The death toll from drug-related violence, according to unofficial press tallies, stands at more than 6,000 this year.
Mexico’s most powerful drug trafficking organizations, according to experts, are the Tijuana cartel, which is run by the Arellano Felix family, and the Gulf, Juarez and Sinaloa cartels.
Two other large drug trafficking organizations, the Colima and Milenio cartels, also operate in the country.
“Los Zetas,” a group of army special forces veterans and deserters who initially worked as hitmen for the Gulf organization, may now be operating as a cartel, some experts say.
La Familia Michoacana, which operates in the western state of Michoacan, the southern state of Guerrero and the central state of Mexico, which surrounds the Federal District and forms part of the Mexico City metropolitan area, is considered the largest trafficker of synthetic drugs in Mexico.
Since taking office in December 2006, President Felipe Calderon has deployed more than 45,000 soldiers and 20,000 federal police officers across Mexico in a bid to stem the wave of violence unleashed by drug traffickers.
The anti-drug operation, however, has failed to put a dent in the violence due, according to experts, to drug cartels’ ability to buy off the police and even high-ranking prosecutors.