MEXICO CITY – The red tide of narco killings continued in the resort city of Acapulco, Mexico, this week, with the severed heads of two men discovered Friday, officials said. A day earlier, another head was found on the stairs of City Hall.

All bore messages directed at the Nuevo Laredo-based Zetas, the enforcement arm of the Gulf cartel that operates along the Mexico-Texas border. It is in a vicious turf war with the Sinaloa cartel, named for the central Mexican state where it is based.

The message found with the first decapitated head, discovered in a black plastic bag Thursday, was for Heriberto Lazcano, the reputed leader of the Zetas. It referred to Zeta attacks against the Sinaloa cartel in Acapulco.

“Loscano (sic), keep sending me more of your idiot (soldiers) so they learn some respect,” said the message left next to the plastic bag. It ended with the letter “z,” pronounced “zeta” in Spanish.

“It’s an act of provocation,” said Acapulco Mayor Felix Salgado. “I’ve received death threats, and not just now, but for some time,” he told reporters.

In January, Acapulco police killed four suspected Sinaloa cartel members in a shootout at a busy intersection not far from the tourist zone.

The police chief, who participated in the shootout, resigned and disappeared. Two of the other officers in the shootout were found decapitated in April.

Local journalists who cover the drug trade have speculated that the officers may have been working for the Zetas, because local police don’t fight drug crime, a federal offense.

The heads found Friday were dumped on the spot of the January shootout, just two miles from the beach, as were the heads of the officers killed in April. In both cases the “learn some respect” message was left nearby.

Jorge Chabat, an investigator at Mexico City’s Center for Economic Research and Teaching, said the Acapulco battle is an extension of the nearly two-year-old fight for Nuevo Laredo.

“This wave of violence is going to continue until one of the two cartels fighting over Nuevo Laredo wins,” Chabat said.

Acapulco authorities have said no tourists have been hurt as a result of the turf war.

(c) 2006, The Dallas Morning News.

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AP-NY-06-30-06 2122EDT

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