Is the work of Los Zetas, or perhaps Los Pelones, a harbinger of coming attractions?
The gruesome discovery was made about 10:30 a.m., when a market area watchman noticed a foul odor coming from a nearby Ford Explorer which carried no tags. He called police, who quickly located the remains. One victim was upright in the backseat, and the other, decapitated and cut into pieces, was in the plastic bag. Both bodies were in an advancing state of decomposition. The seated victim had been shot at least once in the chest. Forensic experts believe the men were killed Monday afternoon (Jan. 23).
The man whose body had been placed in the bag was identified by his wife as Herbert Antonio Baeza May, 27, originally from Yucatán. There are no arrests or suspects, but Cancún police say the executions are an obvious gangland "adjustment of accounts."
Decapitations and dismemberment -- often referred to as "quarterings" in this country -- are a common way of eliminating competitors or punishing gang members who have disobeyed orders. They have become the particular trademark and calling card of the feared Los Zetas, Mexico's most brutal drug cartel, which dominates in Quintana Roo.
On September 21, 35 partially nude and brutalized bodies were dumped in the middle of a busy Veracruz street during rush hour, while hundreds of horrified motorists and passersby looked on (http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/09/horror-on-veracruz-street-35-bodies.html). Veracruz, a veritable "City of Cadavers," experienced a 960% increase in homicides in 2011 (http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/01/veracruz-executions-increase-at.html). The municipality is now under federal military control, after the entire 1,000 strong city police force was disbanded just before Christmas in an effort to eliminate corruption and "cleanse" its ranks (http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/12/federal-troops-take-over-police.html).
Last Thanksgiving Day, 26 corpses were found in abandoned vehicles in Mexico's second largest city, Guadalajara, which had been largely free of the worst excesses of the country's 61 month old drug war (http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/11/narco-terror-hits-guadalajara-mexicos.html). Police believe the Los Zetas were responsible.
On January 16, Cancún tourism officials announced that the city had once again won the prestigious designation of America's Top Travel Destination for 2011, awarded by the U.S. travel agency Orbitz (http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/01/cancun-easily-1-choice-of-us-travelers.html). The same day, a 15 year old Orlando, Fla. girl vacationing with her family at a five star hotel in the city's prime tourist district reported that she was sexually assaulted by a maintenance man. He was arrested and charged with rape (http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/01/american-tourist-15-sexually-assaulted.html).
The last quarter of 2011 saw multiple brutal executions in Quintana Roo, including several decapitations. The links below will take you to a few of those stories. Of course, none of this information is ever printed in the English language press, even here in Mérida. Government officials, tourism promoters and those who make their livelihood by servicing and selling to visitors and American/Canadian expatriates generally ignore the incipient violence along Mexico's Caribbean coast -- just four hours east of this capital city.
Updates Jan. 27-28: Police have identified the victim who was seated in the backseat as Luis Miguel Raya Alvarado, 28, a former Mérida resident. He and Baeza May were drug dealers for Los Pelones, a brutal Cancún gang which specializes in kidnappings and hired killings. Raya Alvarado had also previously sold drugs for the Los Zetas cartel, before switching his affiliation. Both men were closely connected to a Los Pelones kingpin arrested in December, who has allegedly admitted to personally carrying out 30 murders in Cancún last year (link below). As a result of his capture, police say an internal power struggle is under way in Los Pelones which may have led to the double executions. Underlings are fighting to see who will become the new jeffe (boss) of the organization.
Update Apr. 29, 2012 - A contract executioner who worked for both Los Pelones and Los Matazetas has confessed to these murders, say Cancún police. He was arrested April 25.
Los Pelones killer in Cancún also may have been hit man for Los Matazetas: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.mx/2012/04/los-pelones-killer-arrested-in-cancun.html.
Chief of Tourist Police executed in Playa del Carmen: http://mexicogulfreporter-supplement.blogspot.com/2011/11/chief-of-tourist-police-executed-in.html.
Two women executed in Isla de Mujeres hotel room: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/10/two-women-executed-in-plush-isla-de.html.
Los Zetas taking over Cancún: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/10/los-zetas-are-taking-over-cancun-playa.html.
53 year old woman decapitated in Cancún: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/10/woman-53-decapitated-in-cancun-police.html.
Christmas greetings left with bodies: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/12/two-executed-in-cancun-and-killers-left.html.
Another Cancún decapitation: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/12/decapitation-in-cancun.html.
Former Playa del Carmen police officer executed: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/12/former-municipal-police-officer-in.html.
Double AK-47 execution in Cancún: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/12/ak-47-attack-in-cancun-leaves-two-dead.html.
300 Quintana Roo businesses shut down in 2011 due to narco extortion: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/12/300-businesses-close-in-cancun-riviera.html.
Los Pelones hit man with Mérida connection admits to 30 executions in Cancún: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/12/hit-man-with-possible-merida-connection.html.
Will Yucatán remain safe?: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/11/us-greatly-disturbed-by-yucatan.html.