MEXICO CITY – Prosecutors said they found the bound, blindfolded and tortured bodies of at least a dozen people Monday on a roadside in the western state of Michoacan, which has become a flash point in Mexico's war on drugs.
Initial reports indicated that 11 men and one woman were likely killed elsewhere at least a day earlier and dumped near the town of La Huacana, officials in the state attorney general's office said.
It was one of the largest execution-style slayings since the killing of 24 men whose bodies were found bound with duct tape and shot in the head in September in a rural area west of Mexico City. In August 2008, the decapitated bodies of 12 men were found outside the southern city of Merida.
The officials, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity, said the number of victims could increase as police continue investigating the scene.
Also in Michoacan on Monday, the bodies of two men who had been tortured and executed were found near an airport in the state capital, Morelia.
In both cases, the methods used by the killers were those often used by drug cartels to eliminate rival traffickers.
In the Michoacan port of Lazaro Cardenas on Monday, gunmen attacked a hotel where federal police stay, wounding at least one officer, the officials said.
Michoacan, President Felipe Calderon's home state, is at the center of his drug war and has been wracked by a wave of killings and arrests in recent weeks.
In May, federal authorities arrested local Michoacan mayors in an unprecedented sweep against politicians accused of protecting cartels, specifically the La Familia cartel. Eight mayors remain jailed on organized-crime charges.
On Saturday, authorities arrested Arnoldo Rueda Medina, a reputed important La Familia operative.
Since then, gunmen have repeatedly ambushed federal forces and opened fire on police patrols and stations. Attacks across western Michoacan state over the weekend left five police officers and two soldiers dead.
Calderon has sent more than 45,000 troops to drug hotspots across Mexico, including Michoacan, since taking office. Cartels have responded with a vengeance. More than 11,000 people have been killed by drug violence nationwide since 2006, when the federal offensive began.
Drug violence has also plagued Mexico's northern border region.
Gunmen in Tijuana opened fire on a police patrol car on Sunday, killing one officer and wounding three others amid drug violence that has seen at least 18 policemen slain so far this year in the border city.
The attack happened less than a day after another drive-by shooting targeting police left two bystanders injured, according to a Tijuana police statement. Tijuana, located in Baja California state, is located across the border from San Diego, California.
State Attorney General Rommel Moreno announced Monday that he is creating a special investigative group to stem the attacks on police, which he said are part of an intimidation campaign by organized crime gangs.
"Today, unfortunately, the criminals are trying to pressure authorities by killing police officers," Moreno said.
Also Monday, authorities reported the abduction of the police chief of the rough northern border city of Piedras Negras, in the state of Coahuila.
Rogelio Ramos was pulled from his patrol car and kidnapped Monday morning, state Public Safety Director Jose Castillo said.
Officials said the kidnapping could be related to efforts to curb corruption by militarizing the police force in Piedras Negras, across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas.
Castillo's predecessor, Arturo Navarro, was shot and killed in April — less than three weeks after he took over the local force with the aim of purging alleged corruption.