MORELIA, Mexico (AP) — Prosecutors found five decapitated bodies in western Mexico Saturday, with a hand-lettered sign linking the killings to a drug cartel.
The bodies were found in two different locations on the outskirts of Morelia, the state capital of Michoacan.
At one spot, the bodies of three of the men were found lying against the curb of a traffic circle. The state attorney general's office said their heads had been cut off and placed next to the bodies.
A little later Saturday, the bodies of two other men were found in another community on the outskirts of Morelia. Both had been decapitated, and the heads were placed a little farther away. A bloody kitchen knife was found on a nearby road.
Michoacan has been the scene of bloody turf battles between the Caballeros Templarios cartel and the Jalisco New Generation cartel, known by its initials in Spanish as "CJNG."
A hand-lettered sign left with some of the bodies read "We are here now ... respectfully, CJNG."
While Morelia has been quieter than other parts of Michoacan, violence has recently surged there. On Dec. 23, the assistant mayor of one of the suburbs of Morelia was found shot to death in his car. And in September, four men hacked a state legislator to death with machetes on a road near the capital.
The Jalisco gang has been moving into Michoacan, displacing the pseudo-religious Knights Templar cartel, which earned the enmity of many inhabitants because of its systematic extortion demands on businesses and residents. Authorities have said that some of the self-defense groups formed by Michoacan communities seeking to oust the Knights Templar have been supported by the Jalisco gang.