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Mexican state police stand at a roadblock Feb. 5 that was set up after masked armed men broke into a beach home, raping six Spanish tourists who had rented the house in Acapulco, Mexico. / Bernandino Hernandez, AP

ACAPULCO, Mexico - Mexican authorities alleged that members of the armed gang that raped six Spanish tourists in Acapulco knew the victims and had sold drugs to some of them a day or two before the attack, CNN reported Wednesday.

Marcos Juarez, the lead investigator in the case, told CNN that authorities have identified seven suspects, between the ages of 20 and 30, and are monitoring them. He also told CNN that arrests were likely by the end of the week.

The six rape victims were among 14 people victimized by hooded gunmen who entered their beach bungalow before dawn on Monday.

CNN said the attackers were apparently let into the beach house because some of the victims knew them from the earlier alleged drug purchases.

The vicious, hours-long attack on the outskirts of Acapulco before dawn Monday was the latest chapter of violence that has tarnished the once-glamorous Pacific coast resort celebrated in Frank Sinatra songs and Elvis Presley movies.

"Fortunately we have strong evidence to lead us to those responsible for this reprehensible act," Guerrero state Attorney General Martha Garzon Guzman told Mexico's Radio Formula.

The beach home on an idyllic stretch of coastline had been rented by six Spanish men, six Spanish women and a Mexican woman.

The attackers tied up the six men with phone cords and bathing suit straps and then raped the six Spanish women. The Mexican woman was not raped.

Garzon said the Mexican woman begged the men not to rape her and the assailants told her they would spare her because she is Mexican.

The attack began on Monday about two hours after midnight and the victims were only able to report the crime five hours later, at nearly 7 a.m.

Acapulco Mayor Luis Walton, who spoke to reporters on Monday, was forced to apologize after he said the attack was "regrettable" because it would damage the city's image, but it "could have happened anywhere," The Guardian reported.

The comments triggered outrage in Mexico and Spain, and his office issued a statement on its website saying Walton "very much laments the misinterpretation of his comments, which were never intended to hurt the victims or minimize the facts."

The once-glittering resort that attracted movie stars and celebrities in the 1950s and 60s has already been battered by years of drug gang killings and extortions, but except for very few incidents, the violence has not touched tourists.

The Spanish Embassy in Mexico City said the victims were receiving consular assistance.

The victims were "psychologically affected" by the attack and received treatment, the mayor said.

Spain's Foreign Ministry had already issued a travelers advisory on its website for Acapulco before the Monday attack, listing the resort as one of Mexico's "risk zone," though not the worst.

"In Acapulco, organized crime gangs have carried out violence, though up to now that has not affected tourists or the areas they visit," the advisory states. "At any rate, heightened caution is advised."

The attack came just three days after a pair of Mexican tourists returning from a beach east of Acapulco were shot at and slightly wounded by members of a masked rural self-defense squad that has set up roadblocks in areas north of Acapulco, to defend their communities against drug gang violence.

The vigilantes say the Mexican tourists failed to stop at their improvised roadblock.

Acapulco is the granddaddy of Mexican resorts. Elizabeth Taylor was married there, John F. and Jackie Kennedy came on their honeymoon, and Howard Hughes spent his later years hiding out in a suite at the Princess Hotel, a pyramid-shaped icon in the exclusive Punta Diamante, or Diamond Point, zone.

Beheadings and drug gang shootouts, some on the city's main seaside boulevard, became more frequent after 2006, as gangs fought for control of the city's drug and extortion business.



Copyright 2014Wire reports

Read the original story: CNN: Mexican official says rape victims knew attackers

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