Mexican authorities arrest man behind Acapulco murders

| Jan. 24, 2011 |

Mexican authorities have arrested the head of a criminal gang thought to be behind the murders of more than 20 people in Acapulco.

Fifteen decapitated bodies were discovered by police in the popular tourist resort earlier this month, setting a record for the number of decapitated corpses found on a single site in the country.

José Lozano Martínez, nicknamed El Lozano, was arrested by federal police alongside six other members of a gang split from the Beltrán Leyva cartel. Its leader, Arturo Beltrán Leyva, was killed in Cuernavaca, just south of Mexico City, in December 2009, fragmenting the powerful cartel.

The 21-year-old Mr Lozano acknowledged participating in the killing of 22 victims in Acapulco this month, however, the validity of confessions given to Mexican police is often doubted.

Acapulco is a popular tourist resort for Mexicans as well as international tourists. The front cover of popular Mexican magazine Proceso in December 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 Mr Beltrán Leyva.

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 Beltrán Leyva gang before being killed.

Mr Lozano's gang is thought to be behind these murders too.