The bodies of at least 25 people, 15 of them with their heads cut off, were discovered Saturday in the resort city of Acapulco, authorities said.
Drug cartel violence has increasingly plagued Acapulco as rival gangs fight for control of the local market, occasionally spilling into the tourist areas of the city.
Even though most of Saturday’s killings appeared to have steered clear of those sections, the violence damages the reputation of a once-glamorous city struggling to make a comeback amid President Felipe Calderon’s drug war.
The grimmest discovery came as police were investigating a burning car in a shopping center parking lot early in the morning: the decapitated bodies of 15 people. Security officials for the state of Guerrero, where Acapulco is located, said all were men younger than 30.
Police also discovered messages attached to the bodies, and journalists said the notes claimed responsibility on behalf of the Sinaloa cartel and accused the dead men of being extortionists.
Later, six more bodies were discovered in a minivan taxi in the Rebirth neighborhood of Acapulco. All had been shot in the head and were in their late teens or early 20s, officials said.
At least four other people were killed elsewhere in separate incidents.
Late last year, 20 young men from the neighboring state of Michoacan were kidnapped by drug hit men in Acapulco. Weeks later, the bodies of 18 of the men, whose families said they were taking a vacation, were discovered in a mass grave about 40 minutes from the city.
The theory is that the men were seized by gunmen working for a faction of the Beltran Leyva cartel who had mistaken them for members of the rival La Familia gang, which is based in Michoacan.
If members of the Sinaloa cartel were responsible for Saturday’s slayings and have moved into Acapulco, a nasty fight may be in store between them and Beltran Leyva gang members.
The two groups were once allied but have been deadly rivals for several years. The Beltran Leyva group, while dominant in Acapulco, is seen as greatly weakened after the killing or capture of several of its leaders. The Sinaloa cartel is probably the most powerful drug-trafficking organization in the nation.