21 Killed in Gun Battle By Rival Gangs Just South of Nogales; Charred Human Heads Found Hanging Near Cemetary


Just when it seems like smuggling violence can't get any worse comes news of a slaughter just south of Nogales, Mexico: 21 dead, at least six wounded in a massive gun battle.

Media outlets are reporting that the skirmish between rival gangs took place Thursday morning on a dirt road between Tubutama and Saric, about 30 miles southwest of Nogales, Sonora.

On the same day, reports the Nogales International, two charred, human heads were found hanging on fence at the Del Rosario Cemetary, near the Arizona border. Next to the heads was a cardboard sign to warn another smuggling gang. 

Such extreme violence, especially coming days after the slaying of a top gubernatorial candidate, is expected to keep voter turnout low for Mexico's July 4 elections and sway the government further toward its old ruling party, PRI.

Whichever government prevails in the elections, it seems like no one in Mexico has the power to rein in the gang-bangers, smugglers and hitmen.



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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.