Alleged rapist, crucified by vigilantes in Mexico
Alleged rapist, crucified by vigilantes in Mexico Reuters

Drug cartels have appointed themselves as violent moral law enforcers in Mexico after a suspected rapist was snatched from police custody, maimed and crucified naked a crossroads.

Eladio Martinez Cruz, 24, had been taken into police custody after he was accused of rape. Police were transporting him to the station when armed men in two vehicles blocked the police car and took the suspect away.

An anonymous call the following day directed police to a road junction in Contepec in southwestern Mexico.

They found the victim hanging naked from a traffic sign. His arms had been tied to a wooden pole and his penis cut off and stuffed in his mouth.

A cardboard sign was reportedly fixed to his chest with two ice picks.

The sign read: "This happened to me for being a rapist and it is going to happen to all the scandalmongers, traitors... Be aware that this is not a game."

According to local analysts, the drug cartel of the Knights Templar could be responsible for the savage execution.

The gruesome find could signal a worrying new development in the bloody drugs wars rocking Mexico of vigilantism. The recently formed Knights Templar have set themselves up as "Robin Hood"-style fighters, enforcing laws on one hand and breaking them on the other, say crime experts.

The area where the crucified body was found is at the centre of a bloody turf war between the Knights Templar and the rival Michoacan family cartel.

In the neighbouring state of Guerrero the bullet-riddled bodies of 16 men, said to be Knights Templar members, were found in an abandoned van.