A man who stole drugs from a Mexican cartel was bludgeoned, stabbed and then decapitated in a suburban Phoenix apartment–a gruesome killing that police say was meant to send a message that anyone who betrays the traffickers will get the same treatment.
The horrific display of drug violence spilling over the border is believed to be the only beheading by a Mexican cartel in the United States.
The body of Martin Alejandro Cota-Monroy, 38, was found lying in a pool of blood Oct. 10 in a Chandler apartment, his severed head a couple of feet away.
Chandler police have said from the beginning that they strongly suspected it was the work of a Mexican drug cartel, but it wasn’t clear exactly why until a police report was released Wednesday.
“This is a message being sent: Not only are they going to kill you but they’re going to dismember your body. And, ‘if you cross us, this is what happens,'” Chandler police Detective David Ramer said Wednesday.
One man, Crisantos Moroyoqui, has been charged in the killing, and three others are believed to have fled to Mexico.
The police report said a rival drug cartel, the Beltran-Leyva organization, was possibly planning on killing the three men. Cota-Monroy was reporetdly a mid-level member of that drug cartel, for which his brother also worked.
Decapitations are a regular part of the drug war in Mexico as cartels fight over territory. Headless bodies have been dangled from bridges by their feet; severed heads have been sent to victims’ family members and government officials; and bags of up to 12 heads have been dropped off in high-profile locations.