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Tijuana: Body Found On Fire, Head Wrapped In Packing Tape

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TIJUANA, Mexico — Police found a body in flames dumped along a main thoroughfare on the outskirts of this violent northern border city, authorities said Tuesday.

The victim was found with his head wrapped in packing tape, a common practice used by drug smugglers against rivals, a city police report said. The body was still on fire when it was found late Monday, but police said they did not know if the man was burned alive.

Officials were still trying to identify the corpse Tuesday.

The Baja California state prosecutor's office, meanwhile, said it had identified the remains of three young men found last week in Tecate, just outside Tijuana. In one case, only the skull and upper-body bones of a 25-year-old man were found.

Mexico's drug violence has claimed more than 10,700 lives since 2006 when President Felipe Calderon launched his anti-drug campaign, sending more than 45,000 troops to drug hotspots.

Tijuana, across the U.S. border from San Diego, California, has harbored some of the worst violence.

Also Tuesday, police in Piedras Negras _ a northeastern town across the border from Texas _ walked off the job to demand the resignation of retired army Col. Arturo Navarro, who took over as police chief earlier this month and started purging the force.

Navarro fired three high-ranking police officers on April 17 and warned he "needed people who work, people who fulfill their duty and people who are honorable."

The approximately 70 officers on night duty in Piedras Negras refused to go out on patrol, also complaining that Navarro has relied on the army to fight organized crime. Police officers say that has left them both marginalized and fearful of reprisal attacks from gangs.

In appointing Navarro, the Piedras Negras government was following the lead of Calderon, who has relied heavily on the military in his fight against drug cartels. Calderon has acknowledged that corruption is pervasive among Mexican police at all levels.

The Tijuana city government similarly fired its civilian police chief in December and replaced him with an army officer.

The Mexican Bishop's Council, meanwhile, urged Catholic priests in the country to be prudent when speaking publicly about drug trafficking.

Last week, the archbishop of the northern state of Durango, Hector Gonzalez Martinez, said the alleged leader of the powerful Sinaloa cartel lives near the Durango town of Guanacevi, and "everybody knows it except the authorities."

That stoked fear among the region's clergy, and Martinez quickly apologized for the statement. Law enforcement officials said they have no evidence that reputed Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman lives in Guanacevi.

Priests should exercise "prudence when voicing opinions, especially if they can't back it up," Matamoros Bishop Faustino Armendariz said at a news conference at the opening of the annual meeting of the Bishop's Council.

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