The tourists who were kidnapped and murdered in Acapulco were the victims of mistaken identity, a suspected drugs baron has revealed to the Mexican police.
Arrested on Tuesday, the suspect, Carlos Montemayor (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk), 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.
Mexican police accuses Montemayor 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.
They are both alleged to have been members of the powerful Beltran Leyva cartel. It splintered into warring factions following the death of cartel boss Arturo Beltran Leyva. He died in a gun battle against Mexican marines in December 2009.
Montemayor is the latest in a series of alleged cartel leaders to be killed or captured in Mexico.
In president Felipe Calderon’s campaign against the drugs gangs, the dismantlement of the Beltran Leyva cartel has been one of the biggest successes.
Since late 2006, when president Calderon began deploying troops in order to fight the cartels, more than 28,000 people have died in drug-related violence.
However, particular outrage followed the kidnap and murder of the tourists in Acapulco, which 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.
They were last seen by witnesses on 30 September, looking for their hotel in Acapulco.
All of them were from Morelia, and many of the men were related.
Their families have said most of them were mechanics who saved up money in order to take a vacation together each year.
Two of the tourists remain missing.