MEXICO CITY (AP) — The bound bodies of four people were found Friday in the burned-out wreckage of a helicopter in Mexico’s Gulf coast Hustaeca region, along with signs indicating they were killed by a drug gang, authorities said.
The killings were the second act of grisly violence in a month in the region, once popular among tourists.
Prosecutors in the northern state of San Luis Potosi said the private helicopter was normally used to transport tourists. They said the craft did not appear to have crashed, but rather had apparently been intentionally set afire.
The grim discovery was made in the township of Tamasopo, near a well-know series of waterfalls.
Prosecutors said they found “several sheets of cardboard with criminal messages,” but did not reveal their contents. Such hand-lettered messages are frequently left by drug cartels in Mexico to threaten or intimidate their rivals.
Also Friday, prosecutors in the southern state of Chiapas said an Italian businessman had been shot to death in the tourist town of Palenque, known for its Mayan archaeological site. Local media identified the dead man as hotel owner Raphael Tunesi. There was no immediate information on a possible motive.
In early June, authorities in San Luis Potosi found the bodies of seven men dumped on a road in a nearby part of the Huasteca region, in the township of Aquismon.
Photos of the bodies showed extensive bruising on the corpses, suggesting they had been beaten.
Writing scrawled in markers on th corpses said, “This is what happened to me for working with the Gulf” — an apparent reference to the Gulf cartel, which operates mainly along the U.S. border to the north.
The messages were signed “Valles Operation O.B.,” apparently a reference to a rival gang.
The Huasteca region has long been popular with Mexican tourists for its waterfalls and crystalline rivers.