Mexico's Drug Cartel Violence is This...

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#598 Apr 22, 2010
Family: Mexican authorities won't release body of U.S. woman killed in Juárez

By Diana Washington Valdez
El Paso Times

Two El Pasoans were shot to death last week in Juárez, and their relatives today said they can't get the Mexican authorities to release one of the bodies for burial in the United States.
The victims, Hector Calzada Jr., 20, and Catherine Calzada, 18, both U.S. citizens, died in separate attacks. Hector Calzada's body was returned to El Paso, but his sister's body is still at the Juárez morgue.

"We've gone to the FBI and the U.S. consulate, but when it comes to our sister's body, the investigators in Juárez keep giving us the runaround," said Linda Garza, sister of the two shooting victims. "The investigators at the Chihuahua state attorney general's office keep insisting that our mother go to their office before they release Catherine's body. The investigators' last names are Cortez and Caro."
"However, our family is afraid, and we are not going to Juárez for any reason. We have provided someone at the U.S. consulate with a power of attorney to sign any paperwork that is needed."

Hector and Catherine Calzada's biological father, Hector Calzada, was killed in Juárez in 2008. He was a businessman, and his murder has not been solved. He was Garza's stepfather.

"We don't know why they were killed. We just want to be able to bury them," Garza said. "My mother lived in Juárez, and my brother and sister went there all the time to see her."

Mexican authorities said Hector Calzada Jr. was driving a 2004 Toyota sedan when an armed group of men in another vehicle began

shooting at him at the intersection of Avenida Pedro Rosales de Leon and Fuentes de Alvarado. The attack took place in the busy intersection at around 1 p.m. on Thursday.
A woman and a man who were Calzada's passengers in the Toyota were injured and taken to clinics for treatment.

Garza said other family members said Catherine Calzada was kidnapped April 14 at Mejia and Oro in central Juárez.

Garza said her sister's body was found the next day in another part of central Juárez.

"My brother was out looking for her when he was killed," Garza said. "Our relatives who were in Juárez have left the city for safety reasons."

Arturo Sandoval, spokesman for the Chihuahua state attorney general's office, said families generally can pick up the bodies of relatives from the morgue after identifying them and signing certain documents.

"I will try to find out what is holding up the process," Sandoval said.

No one at the U.S. consulate was immediately available for comment today.

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#599 Apr 22, 2010
3 men shot to death in morning attack

Daniel Borunda
El Paso Times
Posted: 04/22/2010

Three men were fatally shot during an attack Wednesday in southeast Juárez.

Shortly before 11:30 a.m., gunmen with AK-47s fired 53 rounds at three men near the intersection of Praderas del Millón and Praderas de Zaragoza streets, Chihuahua state police said. The victims had not been identified but appeared to be in their 30s.

About 740 people have been killed this year in the Juárez area, raising the total to 4,970 people slain since a war between drug cartels erupted in 2008.

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#600 Apr 22, 2010
Juárez: 10 federales arrested, accused of extortion

By Aileen B. Flores
El Paso Times
Posted: 04/18/2010

The director of the Mexican federal police said in an interview that 10 members of his police force have been arrested in Juárez on charges of extortion.

Facundo Rosas Rosas said on the agency's Web site that the officers were arrested by other members of the agency last week.

The officers were accused of extortion and breaking into private property without official orders.

Rosas Rosas said the agency was told that the officers were making a business out of illegal products. He did not specify the types of products.

"We as police are obliged to follow the law and its rules, and it is not right that these individuals take advantage of this opportunity, so we detained them," he said.

In the interview, Rosas Rosas said the arrests of the officers are a clear message to the public that illegal activity will not be tolerated.

He said that to gain the people's trust, the agency has to show that it will not tolerate that type of conduct among its own members.

He said the rule of law has to be a role model to the public and give it hope that the violence pervasive in Juárez will be resolved.

Rosas Rosas said he believes his agency is working in the right direction. He said that since the federal police took over the streets of Juárez the first week of April, homicides decreased from seven to four a day.

On April 5, the presence of federal police dramatically increased in the city, where more than 4,800 people have been killed since 2008.

Mexican officials have said that throughout April, 1,900 federal police officers will be sent by the federal government to Juárez, increasing the federal corps to 4,500.

Rosas Rosas said that the same week the federal police took over, six hit men of the Juárez drug cartel and four gang members who used to work for the Sinaloa cartel were arrested.

The violence that has gripped Juárez has been attributed mostly to a war between drug cartels.

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#601 Apr 22, 2010
Over 15 Pounds of Cocaine Seized

BROWNSVILLE - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Gateway International Bridge discovered cocaine valued at nearly $490,000. The drugs were hidden within a Nissan Maxima.

On Tuesday, a 37-year-old woman from Matamoros was driving the car across the bridge. Her passenger was identified as a 45-year-old man from Matamoros.

During an inspection, CBP officers found seven packages containing approximately 15.3 pounds of cocaine hidden within the vehicle.

Officers turned the narcotics, driver, passenger, and vehicle over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents for further investigation.

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#602 Apr 22, 2010
Beltran-Leyva Cartel Leader Arrested

MEXICO CITY - Mexican authorities have arrested an alleged leader of the Beltran-Leyva cartel.

Jose Gerardo Alvarez Vasquez was arrested after a gunbattle between the Mexican army and cartel members in an area just west of Mexico City.

Eighteen other suspected cartel members were also arrested and two were killed.

Authorities say Alvarez-Vasquez was in charge of cocaine operations for the cartel in Central and South America and oversaw drug operations in many Mexican cities.

He is also wanted in the U.S.

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#603 Apr 23, 2010
Juárez violence unabated while Sen. John Cornyn meets with agencies

By Adriana Gómez Licón
El Paso Times

JUAREZ -- In spite of three presidential visits and promises of improving society, scenes of violence continue at a pace that is causing some people to lose faith in Mexico's fight against drug cartels.

Officials said the murder rate has dropped and the city is beginning to recover from the grasp of a turf war that has been blamed for the deaths of nearly 5,000 people.

But the demilitarization of the city and the influx of thousands of federal agents in early April has had a slight impact on the violence.

Juárez Mayor José Reyes Ferriz recently praised the change of strategy and said it gave hope to his city of 1.3 million.

So far this year, Juárez has had about 750 murders, a significant increase from the 530 at the same time last year.

People in Juárez said they are now skeptical about any government action.

The violence will be the topic of a meeting between U.S. law-enforcement officials and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, today in El Paso.

He is expected to discuss spillover from the violence with officials of the FBI; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and El Paso police.

Cornyn will be briefed on the turf war between the Juárez and the Sinaloa drug cartels that has plagued the city, considered the most dangerous in North America.

That violence drew the attention of Mexican President Felipe Calderón, who visited Juárez three times in February and March. He promised to build schools, increase health coverage, give more credit to small businesses and create jobs.

"I feel that we're working well," said Antonio Vivanco Casamadrid, presidential Cabinet coordinator, at a news briefing this week.

At the moment he was leaving the Hotel Camino Real on Wednesday, a deadly drive-by shooting took place nearby.

Luis Arturo Domínguez Decena, 24, was gunned down near the hotel while he was driving a 2005 Nissan Frontier on Mexican Highway 54.

It was one of several murders that day to which federal police responded.

In addition to investigating slayings and other crimes, federal agents also set up checkpoints on roads looking for guns and drugs. It is a new responsibility for the agents. Before April, soldiers were checking vehicles.

The soldiers had been in the city for about two years and had become common on streets. Now, they are mostly gone, and federal agents have taken over.

When soldiers were in the city, they were accused of human-rights abuses.

Last week, 12 federal police officers were arrested and booked into the Cereso prison. Nine of them are accused of extortion and breaking into private property. Chihuahua state is accusing other three officers for letting another police man escape detention.

Vivanco Casamadrid said it was too soon to judge the federal police work.

In the outskirts of Juárez, the situation is just as dramatic.

Many people have fled farming communities that stretch 50 miles southeast of the city, better known as the Valley of Juárez. Families from towns such as El Porvenir, Guadalupe and Praxedis Guerrero are establishing themselves in U.S. towns like Fort Hancock.

Since March, arsonists have destroyed houses and shops on the Mexican side, and gang members have forced residents out with murder threats. The death toll is higher in those rural areas that were once had about 18,000 people.

In Juárez, residents are as scared as at the time Calderón first visited. Two key attacks in the city put Calderón under enormous pressure from both his Mexican constituents and U.S. officials.

The night of Jan. 30 gunmen killed 15 people, mostly teenagers, at a birthday party in a southeast Juárez neighborhood known as Villas de Salvarcar.

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#604 Apr 23, 2010
Mexican army arrests 5 in killings of US Consulate worker, husband

By Daniel Borunda
El Paso Times

The Mexican army arrested five reputed members of the Aztecas gang in connection with the killings of a U.S. Consulate employee and her husband in Juárez last month, officials said Thursday evening.

Mexican federal authorities said the five heavily tattooed men were arrested Tuesday in Chihuahua City, the state capital south of Juárez.

The arrests occurred while law enforcement officials on both sides of the border investigate the March 13 street shooting of consulate employee Lesley Enriquez Redelfs and her husband, Arthur Redelfs, an El Paso County sheriff's detention officer.

"The detainees have provided information about the homicide of a female employee of the American Consulate in Ciudad Juárez and her husband, in the sense that it was members of the Aztecas who participated in that incident, including one of the detainees who was in charge of watching for the arrival of police," stated a news release by Coordinated Operation Chihuahua.

Officials said further details, including which man was allegedly the lookout, were not released because an investigation continues.

Those arrested were Enrique "Kike" Guajardo Lopez, Raul Gerardo "El Flako" Calderon Loera, Juan Carlos "El Travieso" Duron Moreno, Eduardo "Lalo" Morales Herrera and Jesus Manuel Herrera Torres, alias "El Cala."

Photos show Duron Moreno with a large "EPT" tattoo with green, white and red letters on his abdomen. EPT stands for El Paso, Texas.

When the group was arrested, soldiers also seized
two AK-47 rifles, two handguns and a stolen van.
For the past three weeks, the men were allegedly taking part in a "limpia," or cleansing, eliminating people selling drugs in Chihuahua City without approval of La Linea, or Juárez drug cartel, officials said.

The group is also suspected in 11 homicides in Juárez last year of members of rival gangs.

The men face charges for weapon and drug violations, attempted murder and auto theft. Investigators are interviewing them about the Redelfs slayings and others. On the day the Redelfs were slain, a man married to another employee of the U.S. Consulate also was killed, but officials did not say whether the men arrested were connected to that slaying.

Last month, former Barrio Azteca gang member Ricardo "Chino" Valles de la Rosa was arrested in Juárez on suspicion of acting as a lookout during the Redelfs attack. Valles told investigators that Arthur Redelfs was targeted because he allegedly mistreated fellow gangsters at the El Paso County Jail.

Sheriff Richard Wiles countered that there was no information anyone was mistreated by Redelfs, whom the sheriff described as a model employee.

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#605 Apr 23, 2010
Almost $1 Million Worth of Drugs Seized

BROWNSVILLE - Customs officers seized nearly a million dollars worth of drugs at the Gateway International Bridge in Brownsville. The drugs were found in three separate busts.

Officers discovered 70 pounds of marijuana in a Ford Explorer. The driver was a man from Tamaulipas.

Officers then caught a 36-year-old woman with 24 packages of marijuana stashed in the tires for her Ford truck.

Later, customs officers searched the car of 25-year-old Mexican national. Inside the car, they found 166 packages of cocaine weighing 22 pounds. The cocaine has an estimated value of $704,000.

All of the drivers and the drugs are in ICE custody.
TY Madison

United States

#606 Apr 23, 2010
67 illegal immigrants found in U-haul truck near Arizona border AP

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#607 Apr 24, 2010
7 Mexican police officers killed in Ciudad Juarez

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (AP)— Gunmen ambushed two police vehicles at a busy intersection in Ciudad Juarez on Friday, killing seven officers and a 17-year-old boy who was passing by, authorities said.

Chihuahua state spokesman Enrique Torres Valadez said six of the police officers were federal, and one was a local police woman. Two local police officers remain in critical condition.

Authorities said the police officers had stopped to talk to a street vendor who had flagged them down for help when gunmen opened fire from behind their pickup patrol trucks. The assailants then fled in three vehicles.

Investigators said they don’t know why the officers were shot, although they don’t believe they were targeted because of any recent arrests they had made.

No one has been arrested but police said they have recovered two of the three cars used in the shooting.

Ciudad Juarez is one of the world’s deadliest cities, and a two-year turf battle between drug cartels has left more than 5,000 people dead.

Elsewhere, police in Guerrero said they found the bodies of five men who had been shot to death lying on a dirt road near Chilpancingo, the capital of the Pacific coast state. Three of the men were brothers, all in their 20s.

The state has been a major battleground for warring cartels, including the Beltran Leyva gang, but it was not clear whether the shootings were part of the ongoing drug violence.

In Morelos state, federal police and the Mexican army raided two ranch homes and arrested 15 men near the town of Amacuzac. Those arrested were taken to Mexico City in a helicopter.

The men are suspected of working for Jose Gerardo Alvarez Vazquez, who was arrested in Mexico City on Wednesday, said Ramon Pequeno, the head of the anti-narcotics division of Mexico’s federal police.

Pequeno said the men provided security and carried out killings for Alvarez Vazquez and his partner Edgar Valdez Villarreal, a U.S.-born enforcer known as “La Barbie.”

Authorities say Alvarez Vazquez and Valdez Villarreal are battling for control of the Beltran Leyva cartel.

In the western state of Michoacan, a mayor of a drug-plagued town arrested last year for alleged ties drug traffickers was released from prison late Friday.

Genaro Guisar Valencia, who was stripped by lawmakers of his post as mayor of Apatzingan because of his arrest, told reporters outside the prison in the state capital of Morelia that he would ask the state’s legislature to revert its decision.

Guisar Valencia was among 12 Mexican mayors arrested last year in an unprecedented roundup of elected officials accused of protecting drug traffickers in the state of Michoacan.

He’s the ninth mayor released for lack of evidence.

An estimated 22,700 people have been killed in Mexico’s drug war since December 2006.

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#608 Apr 24, 2010
Ex-Miss Universe denies link to alleged drug capo

MEXICO CITY (AP)— Former Miss Universe Alicia Machado is denying reports that a suspected major drug trafficker fathered her daughter.

The Venezuelan beauty queen who was crowned Miss Universe in 1996 says in a statement issued Friday that the father of her child is a “respected businessman”— and not alleged capo Jose Gerardo Alvarez Vazquez.

Machado was responding to local media reports saying she was had a relationship with Alvarez Vazquez, who was arrested this week in a shootout Wednesday in the outskirts of Mexico City. She denies any link with him.

Authorities say he is responsible for increasing violence in a cartel turf battle in states near the capital. U.S. authorities hope to put him on trial there.

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#609 Apr 24, 2010
Sen. John Cornyn briefed on Mexico cartel violence in El Paso

By Ramon Bracamontes
El Paso Times

EL PASO -- Technology used by the U.S. military such as drones and sophisticated radar could help Mexico in its war against power drug cartels, Sen. John Cornyn said Friday in El Paso.

But sending troops into Mexico is not an option, he said.

Cornyn, R-Texas, spent most of the day getting an update on border security and the ongoing drug cartel war in Mexico, which has killed more than 20,000 people in the country and nearly 5,000 in Juárez alone.

On Monday, Lt. Gov. David Dew hurst also will be in El Paso to speak with local, state and federal law enforcement about the growing violence in Mexico and preventing spillover into Texas, said Rich Parson, his spokesman.

During his visit Friday, Cornyn talked to federal and local law enforcement agencies. The senator said he would do whatever he could to help them.

He also supports the Merida Initiative, as well as its second phase that is being constructed in Congress right now, he said. Under phase one, the United States is sending $1.4 billion to help Mexico and other countries reform their judicial systems and to train police agencies.

Money for phase two has not been finalized.

"I just wonder if it is doing enough to help Mexico," Cornyn said. "I will look to see where else we can help."

He is glad the U.S. government has sent several high-ranking officials to Mexico, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, because the military has the training that Mexico needs to fight the cartels.

"In terms of technology that can be useful to Mexico and along the border region, the military is the best we have," Cornyn said. "They have unmanned drones that can be used anywhere and they have sophisticated radar and other equipment that no one else has.

"But as far as sending troops into Mexico, we are not going to do that. That is not an option."

After his meeting with law enforcement, Cornyn unveiled the components of his Southern Border Security Assistance Act, which is aimed at providing local law enforcement agencies with the resources needed to keep the U.S. side of the border safe.

"It is very important to the security and safety of the U.S. that we continue to help President (Felipe) Calderón in this fight against the cartels," Cornyn said.

Cornyn's bill:

Creates a $300 million border grant specifically for law enforcement agencies within 100 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Allows the local law enforcement agencies to use the money to buy night-viewing cameras, laptops and unmanned aerial vehicles.

Allows agencies to buy vehicles and helicopters that can be used to combat drug trafficking.
The bill also calls for an increase in the number of federal judges and prosecutors along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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#610 Apr 24, 2010
UT System recalls all students in foreign exchange programs in seven Mexican states

By Adriana Gómez Licón

EL PASO -- The University of Texas System immediately recalled all students in foreign exchange programs in seven Mexican states, officials said this afternoon.

"The safety of University of Texas System students, faculty and staff is of the utmost importance, and we feel these actions with regard to study abroad programs and other university-sponsored international activities are prudent given the unfortunate escalation in violence in these regions," Francisco Cigarroa, UT System chancellor, said in a news release.

Only 40 students were affected by the recall, officials said.

Donna Ekal, the associate provost for undergraduate studies at UTEP,said one University of Texas at El Paso student is studying abroad near Mexico City. The recall does not apply to that area. It applies to the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Baja California and Durango.
UT System officials said the suspension is consistent with current travel warnings issued by the State Department.

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#611 Apr 24, 2010
5 federal officers, 1 municipal agent killed in Juárez shootout

By Adriana Gómez Licón
El Paso Times

EL PASO - Mexican federal police spokesman José Ramón Salinas said five federal police officers and a municipal agent were killed today in a shootout in southwest Juárez. He could not confirm whether any other people were killed in the incident.
Police said they have not identified the people who were killed.

Check back with for updates and read more about this story in Saturday's El Paso Times.

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#612 Apr 24, 2010
Border Officials Seize Cargo of Marijuana

Border Patrol officials seized 101 kilos of marijuana thanks to a trained canine.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

LAREDO, Tx.- Border Patrol officials seized 101 kilos of marijuana thanks to a trained canine and arrested a man.

Reports indicate, that officials inspected a Ford F-250 truck with Texas plates, whose driver arrived at the check point on mile 29 and highway 35, north of Laredo.

A trained canine gave alert towards the trucks tool box, where authorities located 7 plastic packages with narcotics valued at 200 thousand dollars.

The subject explained that a friend of his left several packages in the vehicle after dropping him off. Authorities then asked the subject for information on his friend and could not even offer a phone number.

The subject was placed under arrest and taken into custody.

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#613 Apr 24, 2010
Laredoan Arrested for Transporting Narcotics

The subjects identity was not revealed by authorities, however he was taken into custody.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

LAREDO, Tx.- A Laredo man was sent to the County jail, accused of crossing a cargo of narcotics into the American side.

Customs and Border Protection inspectors arrested this individual, that arrived on the Juárez-Lincoln international bridge in a Ford Aerostar.

The vehicle was sent to secondary and a trained canine began giving alert towards the vans roof. Authorities then found 53 hidden packages in a secret compartment with 46.5 kilos of marijuana.

The man told officials he was contracted to transport the narcotics to the American side for a payment of 1,800 dollars.

The subjects identity was not revealed by authorities, however he was taken into custody.

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#614 Apr 24, 2010
Convict Arrested on Laredo bridge

Salvador Cadena González was arrested by Customs and Border Protection inspectors on international bridge II.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

LAREDO, Tx.- A subject that had been deported to Mexico before tried to cross into the United States with fraudulent documents.

Salvador Cadena González, 44, originally form Nochistlán, Zacatecas, was arrested by Customs and Border Patrol inspectors on international bridge II.

This person arrived at one of the boothes and presented an expired resident card with his name and picture. Inspectors decided to check the subjects background with the IDENT system, and discovered the subject was an ex convict and was dangerous.

Cadena González was deported to Mexico on January 25th 2001 for a felony charge he committed in the United States. U.S laws allow legal residents to be deported on certain crimes.

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#615 Apr 24, 2010
U.S. Sen. Cornyn Offers Support For Local Law Enforcement

Derek Shore-KFOX News Reporter
April 23, 2010

EL PASO, Texas -- Local border law enforcement leaders met with U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, Friday to express the needs of their agencies and the ongoing threat of spillover violence from the border’s drug war.

Cornyn said he believes that the federal government has failed at border enforcement and has left local law agencies with the burden.

To assist local agencies, Cornyn is introducing legislation that would provide an additional $300 million to agencies within 100 miles of the border.

The bill would provide money for additional personnel and technology to help combat border crime. It would also allow the hiring of additional federal district judges to deal with a growing case load.

"We know the spill over effect we've heard some about here today. We know it is very real and that people live in fear of their own public safety, and that's unacceptable," Cornyn said after the meeting.

The border drug war has claimed the lives of more than 5,000 people, including a handful of American citizens on both sides of the border.

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#616 Apr 24, 2010
U.S. Border Patrol K9 sniffs out nearly $700K in cocaine

Reported by: Samantha Valtierra Bush
Last Update: 4/23 8:12 pm

TUCSON, AZ -- U.S. Border Patrol agents seized 21 pounds of cocaine at a southern Arizona traffic checkpoint and arrested the drug smuggler, authorities said.

A Border Patrol K9 at a checkpoint on Interstate 19 alerted his handler to the presence of contraband in a sport utility vehicle around 8 a.m. Thursday. The SUV was moved to a secondary inspection area where the K9 team reportedly performed another sniff inspection.

During a physical inspection of the vehicle, 16 bundles of cocaine, valued at over $692,000, were found inside the door panels.

The driver, a female Mexican national, was arrested and turned over, with the cocaine, to the Drug Enforcement Agency, authorities said.

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#617 Apr 24, 2010
4 killed in ambush of Mexico official's convoy

by Gustavo Ruiz
Apr. 24, 2010
Associated Press

MORELIA, Mexico - Gunmen armed with assault rifles and grenades attacked a convoy carrying the top security official of the western state of Michoacan on Saturday, killing four and wounding 10 in Mexico's second brazen ambush in as many days.

Public Safety Secretary Minerva Bautista was among the wounded but was recovering from non-life-threatening injuries, said an official at the state attorney general's office who was not authorized to be quoted by name. Bautista was traveling in a bullet-resistant sport-utility vehicle.

The dead included two of her bodyguards and two bystanders. Of the other nine people wounded, five were bystanders - including two girls ages 2 and 12 - and four were part of Bautista's security detail.

There was no immediate information on the identity of the attackers, who numbered about 20, or on a possible motive. However, drug violence is common in Michoacan, the home base of the drug cartel known as La Familia.

Mexican drug cartels have been known to target security officials. The acting federal police chief was shot dead in May 2008 in an attack attributed to drug traffickers lashing back at a nationwide crackdown on organized crime.

Bautista was returning from the inauguration of a fair when her three-vehicle convoy was stopped just after midnight by a truck the attackers apparently used to block the road.

Several hours later, assailants tossed a hand grenade at a police station in the Michoacan state capital, Morelia, about 30 yards (meters) from the state public safety department's headquarters. The explosion damaged three vehicles, but nobody was hurt.

Farther south, in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero, the dismembered bodies of three men were found in plastic bags inside a home outside the resort of Acapulco on Saturday.

Guerrero state police said a message was found at the scene. Mexican police generally do not release the contents of such messages, but local media said the hand-lettered sign blamed the three dead men for an April 14 shooting that killed six people on Acapulco's main boulevard.

That daylight shooting in Acapulco's balmy tourist zone killed a mother and her 8-year-old child, a taxi driver, a federal police officer and two other men.

One of the suspects detained in that shooting is described as an associate of Texas-born Edgar Valdez Villarreal, nicknamed "La Barbie," who Mexican federal authorities believe is battling Hector Beltran Leyva for control of the Beltran Leyva cartel. There was no indication which gang the three dismembered men belonged to.

On Friday, gunmen ambushed two police vehicles at a busy intersection in the northern border city of Juarez, killing seven officers and a 17-year-old boy caught in the crossfire. Two more officers were seriously wounded.

Authorities said the officers had stopped to talk to a street vendor who flagged them down for help. Gunmen suddenly opened fire from behind, then fled in three vehicles.

Hours after the attack, a painted message directed to top federal police commanders and claiming responsibility for the attack appeared on a wall in downtown Juarez. It was apparently signed by La Linea, the enforcement arm of the Juarez drug cartel. The Juarez cartel has been locked in a bloody turf battle with the Sinaloa cartel, led by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

"This will happen to you ... for being with El Chapo Guzman and to all the dirtbags who support him. Sincerely, La Linea," the message read. The authenticity of the message could not be independently verified.

More than 22,700 people have been killed in Mexico's drug war since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against the cartels.

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