06/18/11— Two unrelated instances of violence in the state of Michoacán—a trail of burned automobiles and the discovery of nine bodies—occurred during the opening of the Fifa Under-17 World Cup soccer tournament. The tournament is being held in six Mexican cities, including Morelia, which is the capital of Michoacán. Officials have not stated a connection between the violence and the tournament. President Felipe Calderón was in attendance at Morelia during the opening weekend of the tournament.
Late Friday evening on June 17, a group of unidentified people set fire to cars and buses on the highways and city streets of Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, which is approximately 35 miles (55 kilometers) from Morelia. Some reports indicate that as many as fifteen vehicles were ignited or moved to block traffic and distract authorities as the suspects fled following a confrontation with federal law enforcement. The Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General del República, PGR) reported the arrest of eight people in connection to the incident, as well as the confiscation of various weapons including grenades, nearly 1,500 bullet casings, 55 kilos of marijuana, and 550 thousand Pesos (approximately USD $46,000).
The following morning, June 18, the bodies of eight men were found in three different public places in the port city of Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán. All victims showed signs of torture, including one man who was found injured, but alive. He died later in a local hospital, bringing the total murdered to nine. The murders are being attributed to the Knights Templar cartel, a crime organization competing with the La Familia cartel in Michoacán. As reported by the Associated Press, of the several messages left with the bodies, one read, “This will happen to everyone who supports Chango Méndez.” Jesús “El Chango” Méndez is suspected to be the current leader of the La Familia cartel.