MEXICO CITY — The Mexican army said Monday that the top leaders of the hyperviolent Zetas drug cartel ordered underlings to leave 49 mutilated bodies in a northern Mexico town square and then hung banners around the country denying responsibility.
The announcement came at a news conference to present suspect Daniel Jesus Elizondo Ramirez, who allegedly got orders from Zetas leaders Miguel-Angel Trevino Morales and Heriberto Lazcano to dump the bodies in the town square of Cadereyta, in the border state of Nuevo Leon.
Brig. Gen. Edgar Luis Villegas said that Elizondo Ramirez, despite his nickname of “El Loco,” or the Crazy One, apparently got nervous about dumping the hacked-up bodies in town and left them on a highway outside of Cadereyta instead. The bodies with their heads, hands and feet hacked off were found May 13.
In the following days, banners appeared hanging from freeway overpasses in northern San Luis Potosi and other states denying the Zetas were responsible.
Villegas said the denials were part of a Zetas strategy to “cause confusion among authorities and the public.”
Survivor: Honduran police fired on passenger boat
LA CEIBA — Lucio Adan Nelson dozed on a riverboat ferrying him home from a visit with his mother when helicopters appeared overhead and started shooting.
He and about a dozen other passengers traveling in the middle of the night jumped into the water for cover.
The young Honduran man was hit in the arm and back but said he couldn’t seek help.
“I had to stay in the water for some time because they kept shooting,” he said Sunday from a hospital bed.
Honduran police and agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration were aboard U.S. helicopters for an anti-drug operation. They have said they were shooting at drug traffickers who fired first from a boat in the Patuca River in the Mosquitia region near the Caribbean coast.
Local officials say four innocent people died in the incident May 11. Honduran police say the anti-drug team found no casualties after the shooting but only an empty boat with nearly a half ton of cocaine.
The DEA agents never fired during the operation, acting only in an advisory role, both U.S. and Honduran officials say.
Honduran military intelligence is investigating, but no one has talked to Mr. Nelson, 22.
Election in dispute after apparent win
SANTO DOMINGO — A governing party official appeared to have scored a first-round win in the Dominican Republic’s presidential election, but supporters of his main opponent complained of vote-buying and other forms of fraud. They said they would challenge the results.
Danilo Medina of the current president’s Dominican Liberation Party received just over 51 percent of Sunday’s vote with 83 percent of the ballots counted, according to the Caribbean country’s Electoral Commission.
His main rival, former President Hipolito Mejia of the Dominican Revolutionary Party, had nearly 47 percent. The winner needed more than 50 percent to avoid a runoff.
Mr. Mejia’s representative on the Electoral Commission accused the ruling party of fraud, saying the former president should have received many more votes than the results reflected.
Observers from the Organization of American States confirmed incidents of vote-buying but not enough to taint the overall results, said the head of the mission, Tabare Vazquez, a former president of Uruguay.
Two Americans charged with conspiracy
PORT-AU-PRINCE — Two Americans jailed in Haiti were charged with conspiracy for participating in a street march that pressed for the return of the country's disbanded army, a Haitian government official said Sunday.
Reginald Delva, secretary of state for public security, said Jason William Petrie and Steven Parker Shaw were charged Saturday night because of their involvement in last week’s march.
Authorities say Mr. Petrie and Mr. Shaw were drivers for a group of ex-soldiers and their young followers who marched in Haiti’s capital Friday for the army’s return. The demonstration drew hundreds of supporters who donned mismatching military uniforms, including Mr. Petrie, who wore an army T-shirt, and Mr. Shaw, who wore camouflaged pants.
The march that began peacefully turned violent when people began throwing rocks at U.N. peacekeepers and shots were fired outside an old military base.
Police locked up 48 other people on a range of charges that included possession of illegal weapons and assault on a police officer.
• From wire dispatches and staff reports