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2 Mexican policemen beheaded in Acapulco

Drug gangs eyed as likely suspects

ACAPULCO, Mexico -- Suspected drug gang hitmen decapitated two policemen and placed their heads outside government offices in this Mexican beach resort yesterday, in a gruesome reprisal for a crackdown on crime.

The killers laid the severed heads of the two municipal officers on a wall outside local government offices in Acapulco's La Garita neighborhood early yesterday, police told Reuters.

La Garita is several blocks from the town's tourist strip of hotels and bars.

A note left at the scene read: ''So that you learn some respect." It was scrawled on a large piece of red cardboard and taped to the wall where the heads were found.

The resort, which became popular as an exotic escape for Hollywood stars in the 1950s, is in the middle of a bloody turf war between two cartels fighting for control of the lucrative local drug trade.

The rest of the bodies of the two policemen, identified as Commander Mario Nunez and Officer Jose Alberto Ibarra, were later found dumped on a street in another part of the city, wrapped in sheets and duct tape.

The killings came a day after Guerrero state Governor Zeferino Torreblanca awarded Acapulco police 32 million pesos ($2.9 million) to buy guns, vehicles, and uniforms as part of a statewide crime-fighting package.

In Guerrero, heavily armed enforcers for the Gulf cartel, dubbed the ''Zetas," are battling a group known as the ''Pelones," or ''Baldies," loyal to a drug gang from the western state of Sinaloa.

Newspapers reported that the two murdered policemen belonged to a rapid response team that was involved in a shoot-out with a heavily armed drug gang in the La Garita district in January, in which four drug traffickers died.

More than a dozen people have been gunned down in attacks attributed to organized crime in Acapulco this year.

Earlier this month, five people were injured in a grenade attack in the city.

In January 2005, Mexican President Vicente Fox declared an all-out war on drug gangs. Since then, more than 1,500 people have been shot, beaten, or suffocated to death by the drug gangs.

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