CANCUN, Mexico – Police discovered the bodies of nine people, including three federal agents, at two sites outside this resort city. Authorities said the killing were probably linked to a drug turf war.
The bodies of five men were found on a dirt road, just off the highway leading to the airport, 10 miles south of Cancun (search). Each victim had been shot in the head and one was found with his hands tied behind his back, Assistant State Attorney General Luis Alfonso Chi (search) told a news conference. Authorities recovered an abandoned car nearby.
Three of the victims — Luis Octavio Guzman, Roberto Alcantara and Fernando Perez — were federal police, Chi said. The other two were identified as Leonardo Martin Flores, a jeweler, and Eduardo Solis, whose hands were tied. Solis' occupation was unclear.
Another four charred bodies were found in the trunk of a still smoldering car parked in an illegal dump near the highway between Cancun and the city of Merida, about six miles from Cancun's airport.
Police said two anonymous emergency calls Thursday morning reported the killings.
Officials said they had no motive or suspects, but the weapons used and the execution-style killings appeared to be drug-related. Chi said smuggling violence had escalated in the area in recent weeks.
The Caribbean-coast state of Quintana Roo, which includes Cancun, was a major drug trafficking route in the 1990s, when Gov. Mario Villanueva allegedly helped Mexico's Juarez cartel move tons of Colombian cocaine by boat, airplane and truck along the coast.
Facing drug allegations, Villanueva disappeared after leaving office in 1999 and spent two years on the run before being captured in Cancun in May 2001.
Villanueva's capture as well as the 2001 arrest of reputed kingpin Alcides Ramon Magana was supposed to have severely weakened the Cancun smuggling ring. Both men are still facing trial on drug smuggling charges.
Once a tiny fishing village, Cancun began developing into a major tourist center in the 1970s. Tourism officials say its white sand beaches and abundance of resort hotels now attract more than 2 million visitors a year.