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MEXICO CITY (AP) — The bound bodies of four people were found Friday in the burned-out wreckage of a helicopter in Mexico’s Gulf coast Hustaeca region, along with signs indicating they were killed by a drug gang, authorities said.

The killings were the second act of grisly violence in a month in the region, once popular among tourists.

Prosecutors in the northern state of San Luis Potosi said the private helicopter was normally used to transport tourists. They said the craft did not appear to have crashed, but rather had apparently been intentionally set afire.

The grim discovery was made in the township of Tamasopo, near a well-know series of waterfalls.

Prosecutors said they found “several sheets of cardboard with criminal messages,” but did not reveal their contents. Such hand-lettered messages are frequently left by drug cartels in Mexico to threaten or intimidate their rivals.

In early June, authorities in San Luis Potosi found the bodies of seven men dumped on a road in a nearby part of the Huasteca region, in the township of Aquismon.

Photos of the bodies showed extensive bruising on the corpses, suggesting they had been beaten.

Writing scrawled in markers on th corpses said, “This is what happened to me for working with the Gulf” — an apparent reference to the Gulf cartel, which operates mainly along the U.S. border to the north.

The messages were signed “Valles Operation O.B.,” apparently a reference to a rival gang.

The Huasteca region has long been popular with Mexican tourists for its waterfalls and crystalline rivers.

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San Francisco Giants | Hes the newest member of the SF Giants bullpen (and allowed nine runs to them earlier this season)

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have already gotten three home runs out of one player they got in return for Darin Ruf. On Friday, they added to the roster a second player from the four-man package who they hope can inject some life into a struggling bullpen.

Left-hander Thomas Szapucki, 26, took the place of right-hander Yunior Marte, who was optioned back to Triple-A after allowing four earned runs and five hits in Wednesday’s loss to the Padres.

Szapucki, who was only recently converted from a starter, joins a bullpen that has the eighth-worst ERA in the majors this month and three of the 20 most-used relievers this season. He arrived to a locker only one station away from J.D. Davis, the other player who came back from the Mets for the Ruf (along with two pitching prospects).

“Obviously we have a high level of awareness that this isn’t something he’s been doing very long,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “At the same time, he’s got an explosive fastball that really carries through the zone at the top if he can get it there. He’s got a nice curveball to work off of that. It’s not the easiest pitch to pick up. That combination gives us confidence and is encouraging enough to want to use him in a big spot tonight if the opportunity comes up and presents itself.”

Since the Mets selected him out of high school in the fifth round of the 2015 draft, Szapucki has made 72 professional appearances, and 59 of them have come as starts (with a 2.95 minor-league ERA). Five of those relief appearances have come since July, when the Mets began the process of converting him to a reliever, which continued after the Giants acquired him.

The transition to the bullpen typically results in a tick up in velocity and better bite on breaking pitches, and so far Szapucki has been no exception. In three appearances with Triple-A Sacramento, Szapucki recorded five of his eight outs with punchouts (while also allowing six hits and issuing a walk).

“Relieving, I just get to come out there and go really hard,” Szapucki said. “It’s really fun. I like it. It’s a little different energy. It’s fun. I like coming out there for an inning. … When you’re starting, you kind of have to pace yourself a little bit. I think you just try to save some energy. … I’m throwing a little bit harder out of the bullpen more consistently.”

Although with Szapucki the number of lefties in the Giants’ bullpen rises from two to three, Szapucki shouldn’t necessarily be considered a specialist. Left-handed and right-handed hitters fared almost equally against him this season at Triple-A (a .241 average for LHB versus .242 for RHB).

Kapler also said Szapucki’s bullpen assignment was only “for now” and that he could eventually be “used in other roles down the road,” such as being stretched back out to a starter.

If the name sounds familiar (it’s pronounced “za-PUCK-ee”), that might be because the Giants were the team he faced in his only prior appearance in the majors this season. Before being converted to a relief role, Szapucki allowed nine runs over 1⅓ innings in a start at Oracle Park on May 25.

“I thought it was very funny,” Szapucki said of learning that it was the same team that beat up on him earlier this season that was acquiring him. “I got a good laugh. They must know how to fix me.”

Notable
  • Austin Wynns started his third straight game at catcher as Joey Bart continues to recover from tweaking his ankle Monday night in San Diego. Bart, who declined interview requests for a third straight day, took batting practice on the field and was “doing better,” according to Kapler. “Not quite ready to say that he’d pinch-hit in a big spot today but feeling more and more confident that he’ll be ready to play and start a game for us in the next couple days.”

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