At least six people died in drug-related violence in the Mexican Gulf state of Veracruz, officials said.

The killings occurred between Friday and Saturday in the cities of Veracruz, Martinez de la Torre and Tres Valles.

Gunmen killed a former police officer, another man, three restaurant workers and a sixth person, who was hit by stray shots in an attack on a municipal official.

Gregorio Morales Garcia, a 42-year-old former member of the Veracruz and Boca del Rio Intermunicipal Police Department, was gunned down Friday.

Morales was killed by three gunmen who opened fire on him inside a computer rental store.

A civilian died when gunmen opened fire in the city of Martinez de la Torre on Alderman Emilio Prince Santamaria, who was wounded but survived the attack.

The mutilated body of a man was found in Martinez de la Torre early Saturday along with a message signed by the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion.

Gunmen killed three workers at the La Corona taco restaurant in the city of Tres Valles on Saturday morning.

Veracruz has been plagued by a turf war between rival drug cartels that has sent the state's murder rate skyrocketing over the past two years.

The federal government launched "Operation Safe Veracruz" last October in an effort to stem the wave of drug-related violence in the Gulf state.

On June 12, police found the remains of 14 people stuffed into an abandoned SUV on the Alamo-Potrero del Llano state highway near Los Cuates, a ranch in northern Veracruz close to the border with Tamaulipas.

The Gulf, Los Zetas and Jalisco Nueva Generacion cartels, as well as breakaway members of the once-powerful La Familia Michoacana organization, are fueling the violence in the state.

Veracruz, Mexico's third-most populous state, is coveted as a key drug-trafficking corridor to the United States, officials say.

President Felipe Calderon declared war on Mexico's drug cartels shortly after taking office in December 2006, deploying tens of thousands of soldiers and Federal Police officers across the country to combat drug cartels and other criminal organizations.

The death toll in Mexico's drug war stands at more than 50,000 since 2006. EFE