Mexico police seize guns, grenades in Cancun resort

CANCUN, Mexico Mon Mar 10, 2008 6:51pm EDT

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CANCUN, Mexico (Reuters) - Mexican police hunting drug gangs seized a cache of automatic weapons and grenade launchers at a luxury flat in the Caribbean resort of Cancun on Monday, near hotels full of foreign tourists.

Tipped off by an informant, police found 22 guns, some with laser sights, 14 grenades and some 500 rounds of ammunition in the apartment at an exclusive beachside golf course development on Cancun's hotel strip, a spokesman said.

"We can tell by the number of weapons that this was not just some private gun collector," said police spokesman Javier Ortiz. "These belonged to an important group of drug traffickers."

Police also found police hats at the apartment and car stickers with official police insignia.

Tourist destinations like Cancun, and Acapulco on the Pacific coast, are famous for attracting planeloads of spring breakers but have been sucked into turf wars between Mexico's violent drug gangs over the past year.

President Felipe Calderon has deployed thousands of soldiers and federal police to hotspots across Mexico, where cartel violence has killed more than 300 people this year and left more than 2,500 dead in 2007.

Cancun, best known for its mass of towering hotels crammed along a narrow strip of white beaches, has experienced shooting between drug hitmen and police in recent months.

The city is Gulf Cartel territory, although police did not immediately link the organization to Monday's arms haul.

The find came after the army confiscated more than 90 weapons -- one of the largest arsenals ever found in Mexico -- in the northern border town of Tijuana on Friday.

Separately, the army found over a ton of marijuana on Monday buried at a ranch in the northern state of Sonora, which is controlled by the rival Sinaloa cartel.

(Reporting by Jose Cortazar in Cancun and Mica Rosenberg in Mexico City; Editing by Catherine Bremer and Philip Barbara)

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