Authorities in Mexico say drug hitmen have beheaded 10 rivals, chopped up their bodies and left them in plastic bags on an isolated road in western Mexico in the latest gruesome attack in a raging drug war.
The body parts filled 18 bags and were dumped in a delivery truck abandoned on a back road in the Pacific state of Guerrero along with a message from the La Familia (The Family) cartel that is fighting for smuggling routes in the area.
"La Familia doesn't kill innocent people. Those who die deserve to die," read a hand-scrawled message left on top of the bags.
Police say some of the victims were shot before they were beheaded.
The Guerrero state attorney general's office says the 10 bodies were found late on Thursday.
More than 14,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon launched an army-led assault on cartels soon after taking office in late 2006.
Most have been killed as rival drug gangs battle for key trafficking corridors into the United States.
La Familia has taken over drug trafficking in Calderon's home state of Michoacan, which is beside Guerrero, and is fighting the powerful Gulf cartel from northeastern Mexico.
The cult-like La Familia mixes violence and pseudo-religion to inspire its traffickers and says its purpose is to protect the local population from rival drug gangs.
Mexico's escalating drug war worries investors and the United States.
Washington has begun releasing part of a $US1.4 billion anti-drug package to Mexico to provide training and equipment to security forces and has pledged to crack down on the smuggling of weapons from the US into Mexico.