UPDATED! March 4, 3PM
"Five youths were tortured, sprayed with bullets and dumped in an empty lot on Tuesday in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, where the army is battling a spike in killings by powerful drug cartels.
The bodies were handcuffed and riddled with dozens of bullets, police said, in one of the bloodiest drug-related murders in Mexico so far this year.
"We think this is another message to discourage major blows to organized crime," a spokesman for Baja California state's security ministry said. The bodies were found a day after soldiers battled drug traffickers in a five-hour shootout in the border city, just south of San Diego, California. The gun battle killed one police officer and one suspected gang member.
The grisly discovery was reported to police about 8 a.m., the Attorney General's Office reported Tuesday afternoon in the first official account of the crime. All the victims had been shot, and one had been handcuffed, the statement said. Authorities said the scene was littered with more than 150 spent shell casings.
The victims had been laid out next to an unpaved road in a rural southeastern area of Tijuana off of the Boulevard 2000, a new highway that links the city to Rosarito Beach. Boulevard 200 has become the body dumping area of choice for the criminal body dumpings since last fall.
The discovery comes amid a spike in violence in the region. The weakening of the Arellano Felix drug cartel in recent years has allowed smaller criminal cells to operate with fewer restrictions, analysts say."
Tijuana is greeted with more street blockades this morning in the area of the Tijuana River, the Rio District.
The blockades and redirection of traffic in the Rio area of Tijuana, are similar to those that have progressed around Baja Norte for the past several days. Meant to control weapons being circulated around town, the State Police are also seeking to break the 'black commandos' hold on the northern border drug traffic capital of Mexico, Tijuana, Baja Norte.
SPEED Mex REAL-Time Report