Headless bodies of 7 missing loggers found on rural road in Mexico's north-west

CULIACAN, MEXICO (AFP) - The decapitated bodies of seven men have been found on a rural road in Mexico's drug cartel-plagued north-western state of Sinaloa, the authorities said on Friday (June 17).

The victims, who were between 22 and 49 years old, were shot dead on Thursday in the community of Cacalotan, state prosecutors and the police said.

"They were all decapitated, placed on a little-traveled dirt road," deputy prosecutor Martin Robles said at a news conference.

The victims were loggers who did not have criminal records, he said. They had been missing since June 13 after they left for work.

Mr Robles said the attack could be in response to the deployment of troops in the area on June 11 or because the loggers crossed into gang territory and the criminals wanted to "sow fear".

Elsewhere in Sinaloa, some 150 families fled three villages in the remote mountain region where Sinaloa drug cartel kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was born, the mayor of the municipality of Badiraguato said.

The residents left their hamlets because of "possible clashes" between armed groups that recently arrived in the area, Mayor Mario Valenzuela told reporters, without identifying the gangs.

The families were living in Arroyo Seco, La Palma and La Tuna, where Guzman's elderly mother still lives. Guzman was recaptured in Sinaloa in January, six months after he escaped prison.

Mr Robles said there were no clashes in the area or attacks against residents. But he confirmed that three men were found dead, though there was no evidence it was related to a gang battle.

A military checkpoint was installed in Badiraguato, the municipality that governs the surrounding villages, and troops have been patrolling the area.