AFP - An armed gang shot dead a mayor in northern Mexico, capping a vicious 48-hour period that has seen 30 people killed, including 12 police officers in the west of the country, officials said Tuesday.
Hector Ariel Meixueiro, who was mayor of Namiquipa in northwestern Chihuahua state near the US border, was shot multiple times after being accosted Tuesday morning by at least 15 men carrying assault rifles, according to the state prosecutors office.
Earlier Tuesday a spokesman for Mexico's public security ministry said the bodies of 12 federal police officers were found along a road in the western state of Michoacan.
The bodies of 11 men and one woman, who had been undertaking investigative work in the area, were found stacked on top of each other and bore signs torture, said police spokesman Monte Alejandro Rubido.
Officials have attributed the killings to the powerful "La Familia" drug cartel that operates in the region and considered one of the most violent criminal gangs in Mexico.
In Ciudad Juarez, the country's crime capital, 11 other men were killed between Monday and Tuesday, local authorities said.
The city has been a flashpoint for Mexico's spiraling drug-related violence, for which President Felipe Calderon has deployed 36,000 soldiers and federal police throughout the country in an aggressive clampdown.
Last weekend, "La Familia" launched a series of attacks against police posts in Michoacan that left four people dead, including three members of the security forces and one suspected cartel hit man.
The attacks were "desperate and violent reactions" to the government's war on the cartels, Calderon said on Monday.
Authorities said the cartel attacks came in retaliation for security agents having detained top La Familia kingpin Arnoldo Rueda.
They say that Rueda, nicknamed "La Minsa" and allegedly La Familia's second in command, is a key cartel operative in charge of managing synthetic drug production and shipping marijuana and cocaine to the United States, the world's top consumer of cocaine.
La Familia, which operates mainly in Michoacan, burst into the headlines in October 2006 when an armed commando linked to the cartel entered a bar and tossed five severed heads onto the dance floor.
More than 7,700 people have been killed in drug violence in Mexico since 2008, according to government figures.