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Mexico police find nine tortured bodies in desert

POLICE acting on a tip found nine bodies partially buried in the desert on the outskirts of the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, and authorities announced the arrest of a suspected leader of a drug cartel hit squad.

Investigators searched the desert site south of the city on Saturday to see whether there are any more bodies.

A state prosecutor's office said a police officer's badge was found at the site. Authorities were working to identify the bodies.

State security official Enrique Torres Valadez said seven of the nine bodies found were male and two were female. "One was handcuffed, all were tortured," he said. "They had been there for days or maybe weeks."

Ciudad Juarez, a city of 1.3 million people on the Texas border, has been hit by a wave of drug-fueled violence, prompting federal authorities to dispatch thousands of soldiers.

Torres said 1,500 more troops arrived on Saturday, on top of 2,150 who arrived on Friday.

Farther east, in the border city of Reynosa, federal police said they had arrested a man who allegedly led the feared Zetas, a group of hit men for the Gulf drug cartel, there.

Sergio Pena Mendoza, 39, is also suspected of participating in an unsuccessful plot to free an imprisoned Zetas leader from jail in neighboring Guatemala.

Pena Mendoza was arrested after he tried to flee a police patrol in a stolen pickup truck with Texas plates. Police found an assault rifle in the truck and said that Pena Mendoza is suspected of killing a police official and a businessman in southern Mexico.

Also Saturday, a male suspect threw a hand grenade at police officers in the western city of Guadalajara, according to the Jalisco state prosecutor. Local media said nobody was hurt because the device rolled into a parking lot.

Police found 14 more grenades and 10 assault rifles in the suspect's home.


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