MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A 24-hour wave of gang violence across Mexico has left more than 20 people dead, some found with their bodies dismembered and stuffed in plastic bags, local officials said on Saturday.
The gruesome violence cast a shadow on elections in four states on Sunday, including a tight governor's race in Mexico's most populous state seen as a bellwether for next year's presidential vote.
In the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, where voters will choose local officials on Sunday, the bodies of five men and one women were found cut into pieces, thrown in plastic bags and left on a street in the town of Omealca, about 200 miles (322 km) east of Mexico City, a source in the state prospector's office said.
In northern Nuevo Leon state, another four dismembered bodies were found, while next door in Chihuahua state a masked man opened fire in a bar in the town of Cuauhtemoc killing six people, according to local officials.
Meanwhile, in southern Guerrero state, where various gangs fight over lucrative poppy plantations used to produce heroin, at least five people were killed in Chilpancingo, the state capital.
Some of the remains were discovered in the city center while others were found scattered on the major highway that connects Mexico City with the beach resort city of Acapulco, according to local media reports.
Last year, some 23,000 people were killed in violent incidents in Mexico, the deadliest year since President Enrique Pena Nieto took office in late 2012.
The violence has grown as the country's powerful drug cartels have splintered and consolidated while fighting ruthlessly for control of lucrative smuggling routes in the United States.
Reporting by Anahi Rama; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Mary Milliken