Mexican police found the bodies of 12 off-duty military intelligence officers murdered by an "ultra-violent" Mexican drug cartel in the western state of Michoacan Monday night, reports The Washington Post.
The bodies—11 men and one woman—were bound, tortured, and then slaughtered. The 12 off-duty military intelligence officers were investigating the "La Familia" cartel, known for its bloodthirstiness. The cartel introduced itself two years ago when it rolled five decapitated heads into a dance hall.
A threatening sign was also left near the bodies. The Post reports authorities believe the victims were ambushed by cartel members in retribution for the arrest of one of the cartel's leaders, Arnoldo Rueda Medina, a chief of operations for the cartel.
After his capture on Saturday, heavily armed gunmen with grenades attacked federal forces at federal stations and hotels across three Mexican states. The attacks killed six federal police officers and two soldiers, according to the Associated Press.
According to the Post, the massacre could signal another dramatic rise in bloodshed:
The abduction, torture and execution of such a large group of federal agents marks a steep escalation in President Felipe Calderón's war with the drug cartels. Though drug mafias often clash with local police officials they fail to intimidate or corrupt, a direct counterattack against federal forces is almost unheard-of. The 12 agents represent the highest one-day death toll for federal forces in the three-year-old drug war.
Since Calderón initiated his drug war against the various drug cartels in 2006, 11,000 people have been killed, according to the AP. Reuters has the number as high as 12,300.
On Tuesday, the mayor of a ranching town in the state of Chihuahua was murdered while driving to work. Authorities believe he was murdered in retaliation for the recent arrest of 25 drug gang members.
The killing came the same day that drug gangs hung banners in the nearby border city of Ciudad Juarez blaming Meixueiro and the state attorney general for the arrest of 25 cartel hitmen last month.
The banner read: "Attorney General ... this time it is serious. We know you and the mayor of Namiquipa rounded up the 25 paramilitaries."
♦ Art by iVoryTowerz/Flickr