Gunmen kill 4 in northern Mexico

Monterrey, Mexico, Apr 18 (EFE).- Gunmen killed three women and a man in Monterrey, the capital of the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, in incidents likely linked to drug trafficking, officials said Thursday.

The women were gunned down Wednesday night outside a house in the San Bernabe section of Monterrey, a Nuevo Leon Attorney General's Office spokesman told Efe.

The gunmen arrived at the house in a rented vehicle and opened fire on the victims, who ranged in age from 22 to 38, the AG's office spokesman said.

One of the women had been involved romantically with a member of a drug gang and that may have been the motive for the killings, the AG's office spokesman said.

The young woman was the target and "the other two women were not involved in what had happened," the official said.

Police cordoned off the area and Nuevo Leon State Investigations Agency, or AEI, personnel gathered evidence at the crime scene, where several 9 mm bullet casings were scattered on the ground.

The body of a man, meanwhile, was dumped in a street in Monterrey's southern Buenos Aires district early Thursday, an Efe reporter confirmed at the scene.

The body showed signs of torture and was lying next to a chain and padlock that were apparently going to be used to hang the cadaver from a bridge, a common practice among the drug cartels that operate in northern Mexico.

Earlier this week, nine bullet-riddled bodies were found on the banks of the La Silla River in Juarez, a city in Nuevo Leon.

The bodies were discovered Monday afternoon in the Reforma district of Juarez.

Nuevo Leon, one of Mexico's most violent states, is the scene of a turf war between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas.

After several years on the payroll of the Gulf cartel, Los Zetas, considered Mexico's most violent criminal organization, went into the drug business on their own account and now control several lucrative territories.

The criminal organizations have been fighting for control of smuggling routes into the United States since 2010.

The war on drugs launched by former President Felipe Calderon, who was in office from 2006 to 2012, left about 70,000 people dead, or an average of 32 per day, in Mexico, officials say.