MEXICO CITY — The drug war has taken flight.
Even by the macabre standards of Mexican narcotics traffickers, this week's bizarre aerial events seem to be elevating the conflict to new frontiers.
Around dawn, a low-flying airplane buzzing over the Eldorado area in the coastal state of Sinaloa — the old stomping grounds of drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán — started tossing out bodies. An estimated three corpses came crashing down in the area, according to Mexican news reports, including one that landed on the roof of a local public clinic. That semi-clothed person, with signs of torture, had a bag over its head, Milenio news agency reported.
"It is a man, but we don't know more," said Antonio Garcia, a spokesman for the Mexican Institute of Social Security, which administers the clinic. "The impact of the fall makes it more difficult to be able to identify him or the wounds he suffered."
"I can't recall anything like this happening before," he said.
There were conflicting reports about where the other bodies might have landed.
Eldorado is located south of Culiacan, the state capital, where drug-war violence has increased following Guzmán's arrest last year and his extradition in January to New York to face drug-trafficking charges. Rival cartels have been vying for control in Sinaloa and several other Mexican states. Some 900 Mexican soldiers recently deployed to the area to try to establish security.
Two days before the bodies fell, a helicopter dumped hundreds of what were described as "narco-fliers" onto a suburb east of Mexico City. That strange display of propaganda was caught on video by cellphone cameras, showing plumes of fliers fluttering down into the streets of Texcoco as the helicopter circled overhead.
The fliers, dropped during a popular festival in Texcoco and addressed to "Oso, Tito, Beny and all of your gang," demanded an end to extortion, kidnapping and nepotism in government. They were signed "La Familia Unida," which local reports identified as a criminal organization. The addressees were members of another criminal group, according to Mexican news reports.
An official of the state of Mexico said authorities were looking into the matter.
Across Mexico, drug-war violence is on the upswing. Homicide figures have increased for the past two years and have begun to approach levels of violence seen at the height of the conflict in 2011.
Gabriela Martinez contributed to this report.