Police link Arizona beheading to Mexican drug cartel

PHOENIX Thu Mar 3, 2011 9:42pm EST

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PHOENIX (Reuters) - Police have tied the October beheading of a man in a Phoenix suburb to Mexican drug cartels, saying it was rare for such a bloody killing to take place north across the border.

The decapitated body of Martin Alejandro Cota Monroy was discovered on the living room floor of his apartment in Chandler, Arizona, on October 10, his head lying nearby.

A man who lived in an adjacent apartment, Crisantos Moroyoqui, was arrested later that day and accused by police with being part of a three-man hit crew that killed Monroy over a drug debt.

In a report released on Wednesday, police linked the killing to Mexican drug cartels. Beheadings tied to drug gangs have been rare in the United States, but they are a hallmark of Mexican drug cartels.

"We just don't hear something like this happening in Chandler or any other city here. It's very rare," Chandler police Sgt. Joe Favazzo said.

According to the report, police believe Monroy's murder was ordered by members of the PEI-Estatales/El Chapo drug cartel in retaliation for the 38 year-old Monroy's having stolen 400 pounds of marijuana.

Monroy apparently first claimed to the cartel that U.S. border agents seized his marijuana, but he was caught in a lie, the report said.

The offered his house as collateral for the stolen drugs and promised to pay it back, but the gang discovered he did not own a house and ordered his killing, police said, according to the report.

"They stabbed him, we believe to death, and then severed his head. There was a lot of blood," Favazzo said.

Police say the other men accused of killing Monroy have likely fled to Mexico.

The men had been staying in California before traveling to Arizona to find their victim, police said.

(Reporting by David Schwartz, writing by Alex Dobuzinskis)

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