MEXICO CITY -- Two politicians from the soon-to-be-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, have been slain within two days of each other, sending a chilling reminder of the violent Mexico that awaits the new administration.
One of the killings, on Friday in the border state of Sonora, bore the hallmarks of an organized-crime hit: Eduardo Castro Luque, a congressman-elect in the state legislature, was shot to death by masked assassins who sped away on a motorcycle, authorities said.
The second slaying was more unusual: Jaime Serrano Cedillo, a congressman in the state of Mexico legislature, was stabbed to death Sunday as he walked down a street in Nezahualcoyotl, a sprawling district on the outskirts of Mexico City, authorities and local news reports said.
Both belonged to the PRI, which is returning to presidential power on Dec. 1 after the contentious election of Enrique Peña Nieto.
Also over the weekend, authorities discovered 17 naked, mutilated bodies dumped alongside a rural road in Jalisco state, where rival cartels are disputing territory. All were men and were bound with ropes and chains. There was speculation they might have been from Central America, a region whose migrants increasingly fall prey to gangs as they attempt to cross Mexico.
That discovery follows those of 16 bodies dumped in Guerrero last week, and seven on Friday in Nuevo Laredo, across the border from Texas. Nuevo Laredo is in Tamaulipas state, where the capture last week of a major drug capo has residents and officials bracing for possibly violent fallout.
On Monday, meanwhile, the Public Security Ministry released an annual report that detailed the progress being made in overhauling the corruption-ridden federal police force (link in Spanish). A pillar of outgoing President Felipe Calderon's crime-fighting strategy has been to build and improve a national police agency that can take on the drug cartels, currently being pursued by the military.
The ministry said 2,045 cops failed the vetting program for an assortment of reasons (from committing crimes to using drugs) and have been or will be fired. In Washington, Mexican Interior Secretary Alejandro Poire said as many as 65,000 state and local police officials will eventually be purged, news agencies reported (link in Spanish). The federal police force alone numbers nearly 36,000.
In a separate statement, the security ministry said 51 police officers have been summoned and have given testimony in the Aug. 24 shooting of two American CIA operatives by Mexican federal police on a road south of Mexico City. Mexican authorities now say the police were in hot pursuit of kidnappers who had earlier seized and released an official from Mexico's anthropological institute. Of the 51, 12 are under a form of house arrest, the ministry said.
-- Tracy Wilkinson
Photo: Mexican authorities patrol the site where 17 bodies were found dumped alongside a road in Jalisco state over the weekend. Credit: AFP /Getty Images