Mexico drugs baron admits tourist deaths mistake
- 24 November 2010
- From the section Latin America & Caribbean
A suspected drugs baron has revealed that 20 tourists kidnapped and murdered in Acapulco were the victims of mistaken identity, Mexican police say.
The suspect, arrested on Tuesday, said a faction of his gang mistook the Mexican tourists for members of a rival cartel, according to police.
The tourists disappeared in September, and 18 bodies were later found in a mass grave.
The suspect, Carlos Montemayor, was arrested in Mexico City on Tuesday.
He is accused of being the successor to alleged drugs lord Edgar Valdez - known as "Barbie" - who was detained in August.
Known as "El Charro", Mr Montemayor is Mr Valdez's father-in-law.
Both men are alleged to have been members of the powerful Beltran Leyva cartel, which splintered into warring factions after Mexican marines killed cartel boss Arturo Beltran Leyva in a gun battle in December 2009.
Mr Montemayor is the latest in a series of alleged cartel leaders to be killed or captured in Mexico.
The dismantlement of the Beltran Leyva cartel has been one of the biggest successes in President Felipe Calderon's campaign against the drugs gangs.
More than 28,000 people have died in drug-related violence since President Calderon began deploying troops to fight the cartels in late 2006.
But the kidnap and murder of the tourists in Acapulco caused particular outrage.
They disappeared on 30 September after they left their home town of Morelia. Witnesses last saw them looking for their hotel in Acapulco.
The families of the men, many of whom were related, have said most of them were mechanics who saved up money to take a vacation together each year.
Two of the tourists remain missing.
Acapulco has been the scene of a bloody conflict between rival drugs cartels fighting for control of smuggling routes to the US along the Pacific coast.