Austin, Texas: A Mexican police commander investigating the reported shooting of an American tourist on a border lake was decapitated and his head was found in a suitcase outside a Mexican Army base, a Texas sheriff said late Tuesday.
Ruben Rios, a spokesman for the Tamaulipas state prosecutor`s office, said Rolando Flores, the commander of state investigators in Ciudad Miguel Aleman who was part of a group investigating the reported shooting of David Hartley, was slain.
Rios said authorities "don`t know how or why he was killed. We don`t have any details on how he died."
But Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez told The Associated Press later Tuesday that "reliable sources within the law enforcement community of Mexico" told him that Flores` head was found Tuesday morning in a suitcase outside of an Army base.
Cartels have used beheadings to terrorize the public and send messages to Mexican law enforcement. U.S. officials have said threats from drug gangs who control the area around Falcon Lake have hampered the search for Hartley.
Gov. Rick Perry said Tuesday that backing off when confronted by threats like Flores` slaying is "the worst thing we can do."
"I think their attempt is to intimidate law enforcement, no matter who they are or where they are," Perry told the AP. Their message is to "stay out of their territory."
"The worst thing we can do is let the terrorists dictate the terms of how we`re going to live."
Perry said the threat should be handled by increasing "the numbers of law enforcement and military."
Hartley`s wife, Tiffany, said she and her husband were on Jet Skis on Sept. 30, returning to the U.S. from photographing a half-submerged church in Mexico, when they were attacked by pirates on speedboats. Hartley was shot and presumably fell into the lake. Tiffany Hartley said she tried to retrieve her husband`s body and his Jet Ski but the pirates continued firing and she fled. Gonzalez has said he has an eyewitness who corroborates her account.