MEXICO CITY Suspected drug hitmen hung the bodies of two men off a major bridge on Friday in a weekend get-away near Mexico City in the latest brazen act of drug violence near the capital.
The two men were found stripped to the waist and hung by the neck from the bridge near a shopping mall early Friday morning in Cuernavaca, said the attorney general's office for Morelos state, which includes the city.
Mexican media reported the hitmen riddled the bodies with bullets before fleeing the scene.
"Given the characteristics of this act, the killings appear to be linked to drug cartels and it is something we are seeing more of in the area," said a spokesman for the attorney general's office who declined to be named.
Drug violence is raging across Mexico and almost 20,000 people have died in the fight among cartels and with Mexican security forces since President Felipe Calderon launched his army-led crackdown on drug gangs in late 2006.
The escalating violence is scaring off tourists and worries Washington, which is giving anti-drug aid, equipment and police training to Mexico. Some investors have frozen investment in factories in cities on the U.S. border, especially in Ciudad Juarez, the most deadly flash point in the drug war.
The killing of top drug lord Arturo Beltran Leyva by Mexican security forces in Cuernavaca in December has sparked fighting in the once quiet colonial city, as factions within the Beltran Leyva cartel fight for leadership and rival gangs seek to encroach on its territory.
The attorney general's office said police found a message near the bodies on Friday signed by a new drug gang calling itself the South Pacific Cartel that threatened retaliation against those who cooperated with Edgar Valdez, known as La Barbie, one of Beltran Leyva's top lieutenants.
(Reporting by Robert Campbell; editing by Todd Eastham)