Mexico's drug violence has reached a new low as 28 corpses, 15 of them decapitated, were discovered by police in the tourist resort of Acapulco, setting a new record for the largest number of decapitated bodies found on a single site.
Police were led to a burning car in the early hours of Saturday morning where they made the gruesome discovery on a pavement in front of a shopping centre. The victims' heads were found piled up some distance away.
All male and described by police as appearing between 25 and 30 years old, the bodies were found beside messages appearing to be from the Sinaloa cartel, heading by Joaquin Guzmán Loera, or El Chapo, Mexico's most wanted drug lord.
According to the notorious Blog del Narco--a website updated multiple times a day often with gory pictures of the most recent drug-related killings in Mexico--one poster read: "This will happen to anyone who tries to enter the plaza, Sincerely Chapo Guzmán."
Last year saw the discovery of a mass grave containing 18 bodies in the tourist resort, located in the state of Guerrero. The men, mainly mechanics, had been taking a holiday together from Michoacán when investigators believe they were mistaken for members of the La Familia cartel by a faction of the Beltran-Leyva gang before being killed.
If the Sinaloa cartel are responsible for this weekend's deaths, a three-way turf war could take over the resort between the Beltran-Leyva cartel, La Familia and the Sinaloa cartel. The government will be keen to avoid a turf war in such a famous tourist spot.
The discovery comes days after the killing of a police chief in front of his wife and children in Taretan, Michoacán. Francisco Aparicio Mendez was killed by gunmen at close range and is the first police chief thought to have been killed in 2011.
The hunt is still on for Erika Gandara, the only police officer in the northern border town of Guadalupe. The 28-year-old was kidnapped just before Christmas.
The front cover of popular Mexican magazine Proceso a month ago showed an idyllic Acapulco beach resort with a dead body looking over the hills in its foreground under the headline, “Acapulco, almost paradise.”
The influential magazine blames the three-way turf war on the killing of Arturo Beltran Leyva in December 2009.
Last year saw just under 12,500 recorded deaths in drug-related violence in Mexico.