Bodies, Severed Head Found in Mexican State Known for Drug Trafficking

Mexican police on Tuesday found the remains of six people tortured and shot to death in a western state that is a focus of the government's war against drug cartels.

In other bloodshed, the body of a slain Texas teenager was found in a violent northern border city, but authorities had not determined whether her killing was related to the drug trade.

Police in the western state of Michoacan found the bodies of five men in a hole on a remote dirt road near the city of Apatzingan, the state prosecutor's office said. The bodies were blindfolded, gagged and showed signs of torture and multiple gunshot wounds — trademarks of drug-related homicides.

Authorities said they also found a severed head belonging to a sixth person and bullet casings from assault rifles. Mexican drug traffickers frequently decapitate their victims.

None of the bodies had been identified.

Michoacan has been a major focus of a crackdown on organized crime launched by President Felipe Calderon after taking office in late 2006. More than 10,800 people have died in drug violence since then.

Last month, federal agents arrested 10 mayors across Michoacan on suspicion of protecting La Familia cartel.

State Secretary Fidel Calderon said Tuesday the Michoacan government was officially firing more than a dozen state officials and police chiefs charged with links to organized crime. He added, however, that three mayors released Monday after spending more than a month in jail while being investigated will be allowed to return to office.

In the northern city of Ciudad Juarez, police found the body of a 19-year-old woman dumped at an intersection with her throat slit.

U.S. Consulate officials identified her as an American citizen from across the border in El Paso, Texas, said Vladimir Gonzalez, a spokesman for the Chihuahua state attorney general. Police were investigating whether her killing was related to drug dealing, but were also considering other motives.

She was the fourth U.S. citizen slain in Ciudad Juarez this month. Despite the presence of thousands of soldiers, the city is one of Mexico's most violent, with more than 800 killings related to the drug trade this year.

Earlier, Veracruz state prosecutor Salvador Mikel said at least five people died Monday in several drug-related slayings in the Gulf coast port of Veracruz. A message pinned to one body warned police: "The war has hardly begun."

Customs officials announced three major drug seizures that were made June 22:

—Nearly 1,000 pounds of cocaine hidden in a shipment of tires from Colombia, found at the Pacific port of Manzan.

—More than 1,200 pounds of marijuana, discovered in the border city of Nuevo Laredo.

—330 pounds of pseudophedrine pills in a shipment of medical supplies from Bangladesh, stopped at Mexico City International Airport. Pseudophedrine, a chemical found in cold medicines, can be used to make methamphetamine and is banned in Mexico.