HomeNewsAnalysis3rd Mexican Mayor Killed in 2 Weeks as Cartels Increasingly Target Politicians
ANALYSIS

3rd Mexican Mayor Killed in 2 Weeks as Cartels Increasingly Target Politicians

MEXICO / 14 JAN 2011 BY GEOFFREY RAMSEY EN

The mayor of a small town in southern Mexico, Luis Jimenez Mata, was assassinated yesterday by unknown gunmen in the privacy of his home in the state of Oaxaca.  

Jimenez was the second mayor killed this week, and the third so far this year. According to the Mexican daily El Milenio, he had only been in office since the turn of the new year.

Although a motive for the killing has not been confirmed by authorities, drug-related violence continues to rise in Mexico, and the murder may be the latest in an increasing number of politicians targeted by the country’s powerful drug cartels.

Another mayor, Gustavo Sanchez, was stoned to death last September in Tancitaro, Michoacan, a town known for producing high amounts of methamphetamine.  The Associated Press reports that a year prior to the mayor’s death, his predecessor and seven other town officials resigned, saying they had been threatened by drug traffickers and complaining that local police were not showing up to work.  One of Sanchez’s first acts as mayor was to dismiss the municipality’s entire 60-officer force for failing to stop a series of killings, and to order Michoacan state police and soldiers to handle security duties in the town.  This may have angered criminal organizations in the area, who were likely tied to the notorious Familia Michoacana.

Sanchez’s case is typical for low-level Mexican authorities who attempt to take on criminal enterprises.  Because mayors often appoint local police officers, they are seen as key assets to drug-trafficking organizations attempting to control police activity in their areas of influence.  In addition, many of Mexico’s drug trafficking organizations seek to control local authorities to win government contracts and concessions. These "public works" can help them ingrain themselves in the community and thus deepen their local loyalties.  The Familia, for instance, bills itself as a kind of community organization, resolving local disputes and funding social projects like schools and roads.

Drug-related assassinations are not limited to low-profile officials, as demonstrated by the June 2010 killing of Rodolfo Torre Cantu, a candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional – PRI) who was running for governor of the state of Tamaulipas.  Torre was gunned down in his motorcade as he made his way to a campaign event, days before the July gubernatorial elections. Last year saw Tamaulipas transform into a battleground between the Gulf Cartel and Zetas criminal gang, the former enforcement arm of the Gulf Cartel, a feud which began in early 2010 after Gulf members assassinated a Zeta leader.  Torre had made  the fight against drug-related violence a central pillar of his campaign.

In a statement made shortly after Torre’s shooting, President Felipe Calderon called it part of a broader attempt by drug syndicates "to interfere in the decisions of citizens and in electoral processes."  As analysts look ahead to the 2012 presidential elections and the country's main political parties begin to consider candidates, drug-related violence is sure to be a key issue for each prospective campaign.  With so many politicians being targeted for their anti-crime stance, however, the candidates may find themselves having to weigh their political platform against their life.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

METHAMPHETAMINE / 9 FEB 2012

The Mexican Army seized a record 15 tons of pure methamphetamine in Jalisco, in a sign that criminal groups in…

EXTORTION / 7 DEC 2010

Threatening phone calls made by supposed members of violent crime groups like the Zetas increased 210 percent from 2009, says…

MEXICO / 9 MAY 2012

A retired military officer who acted as the prison system director for the Coahuila penitentiary was killed by armed gunmen…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…

THE ORGANIZATION

Exploring Climate Change and Organized Crime

10 SEP 2021

In July, InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley moderated a panel for the Climate Reality Project's regional series of workshops for young climate activists in the Americas. The week-long event…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gearing Up a New Class of Interns

3 SEP 2021

InSight Crime is readying its newest class of interns – from universities in Europe and the Americas – to begin investigative work on a number of high-impact projects. For the…

THE ORGANIZATION

Tracking Environmental Crime in the Amazon

27 AUG 2021

Next week, InSight Crime launches an investigation – conducted with Brazilian think-tank the Igarapé Institute – on the sophisticated organized crime structures and armed groups that…