In what local police spokesman Donald Gonzalez told Reuters was the "worst massacre we have seen in modern times," some 200 gunmen in May attacked the town of Caserio La Bomba, which lies in northern Guatemala near the border with Mexico. The raiders, believed to be members of Mexico's notorious Zetas drug cartel, killed 25 men and two women, beheading most of their victims. And while such carnage has become frighteningly common in Mexico, the Guatemala attack was a gruesome indicator that the narco wars have spread across Mexican borders. Guatemalan authorities have spent months trying to expel the Zetas, but reports indicate that entire regions of the country are still under the cartel's control.
TIME's July 11 cover story by Latin American Bureau Chief Tim Padgett chronicled the bloodshed of Mexico's escalating war over the $65 billion-a-year drug trade from the point of view of victims, police, and U.S. and Mexican officials. Since Mexican President Felipe Calderón deployed tens of thousands of soldiers and marines to fight the gangs in 2007, drug-related murders have risen more than 500 percent. But as the cost of doing business has risen in northern Mexico as a result of increased U.S.-backed Mexican government action, the cartels have spread to Mexico's south, and even to its southern neighbors.