Mexican Investigator Searching for Killers of American David Hartley Is Decapitated

Investigator searching for the killers of David Hartley is murdered.

October 12, 2010, 5:06 PM

Oct. 12, 2010 — -- The head of a murdered investigator who had been working on the case of missing Texan David Hartley was stuffed in a suitcase and delivered to the Mexican military earlier today.

The severed head of Rolando Flores, the head of state investigators in Ciudad Miguel Aleman, was murdered after spending weeks searching for Hartley. The American disappeared on Sept. 30 after he was shot on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake while Jet Skiing with his wife Tiffany.

Tiffany Hartley has said he was gunned down by pirates, and Hartley's family accused Mexican police of not looking for the body because they were afraid of Mexican drug gangs.

News of Flores' murder was first reported by Texas State Rep. Aaron Pena, who tweeted earlier today that the investigator had been decapitated.

Pena said on his Twitter account that he confirmed the decapitation through Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez, the office in charge of the Hartley investigation. A called made to Gonzalez was not immediately returned.

Tamaulipas state prosecutor spokesman Ruben Rios told The Associated Press that Flores' murder was "unrelated to the investigation" into Hartley's death.

Earlier this week, Mexican authorities named two suspects in Hartley's murder, two Zeta drug cartel members known as Pedro Saldiva Farrias, 27, and his brother Jose Manuel Saldiva Farrias, whose age was not given.

Juan Carlos Ballesteros, an investigator with the state prosecutor's office of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, said both were said to be suspected members of the Zeta drug cartel from Nueva Ciudad Guerrero, near the abandoned town where David and Tiffany Hartley were sightseeing before they were ambushed.

Zeta Cartel Suspected in Decapitation of Top Investigator

The Hartley case highlights the ongoing turf war between Mexican drug cartels and the country's government, which has been waging a war against the growing drug violence. More than 29,000 people have died in drug violence since December 2006, with the Zeta cartel being blamed for the majority of the deaths.

Zeta is known for smuggling billions of dollars of cocaine and other drugs into the U.S. every year.

Since the Hartley case first broke late last month, a virtual tug of war has occured between the U.S. and Mexico over which country should be searching for him.

U.S. officials said they're prohibited from entering Mexican waters to search for the body and have searched Falcon Lake on the American side, to no avail.

David Hartley's mother Pam Hartley has issued a plea to President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking for aid in bringing her son's body home.

Mexican police had initially cast doubt on Tiffany Hartley's account of the incident, saying they could find neither her husband's body nor his Jet Ski.

But late last week, an eyewitness come forward, claiming that he saw Tiffany Hartley fleeing in panic to the American side of the lake.

"I saw the Jet Ski come around an island," the witness told "Good Morning America." "There was something wrong actually. The way I saw her come around, it looked like something terribly wrong happened. I mean, she was jittery, frantic. ... She was crying, sobbing."

Tiffany Hartley said she and her husband took Jet Skis to the Mexican side of the lake to take pictures of a small church when suddenly a band of Mexican pirates opened fire on them with assault rifles.

ABC News' Ryan Owens and Gina Sunseri contributed to this report.

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