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BRIEF

Police Among 8 Arrested For Mexican Mayor's Death

MEXICO / 19 MAR 2013 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

State authorities in Mexico say they have arrested eight people, including three municipal police officers, involved in the assassination of a former mayor in Veracruz state last February.

The attorney general of Veracruz said the suspects had "confessed" to the killing of Enrique Marin Lara, the former mayor of the municipality of Soledad de Doblado, based about 75 kilometers from the state capital, Televisa reported. Four civilians and one transit employee were also among the detainees. 

Marin Lara was gunned down after exiting his home on February 22. He served as the municipality's mayor from 2004 to 2008. He was a member of former ruling party, the National Action Party (PAN). 

InSight Crime Analysis

Mayors from rural municipalities in Veracruz frequently face threats and worse, an indication of the strength of criminal organizations in the state and the weakness of the government. One Veracruz mayor was kidnapped and strangled to death last year. Another former mayor in the state was gunned down along with his son last August. 

Veracruz is currently a battleground between the Zetas and the Jalisco Cartel - New Generation (CJNG), both of whom are well-known for using brutal tactics in order to intimidate and coerce reluctant (and even willing) partners. This conflict has increased the threats confronted by municipal officials and police, who often face a "plata o plomo" -- bribe or bullets -- dilemma. 

The problem is not exclusive to Veracruz. Some 31 local mayors and 1,200 municipal officials across Mexico have reportedly been killed in the past six years. Local officials must often agree to allow local criminal organizations to operate with impunity, or else face the consequences.

An online video which emerged last year, purportedly shows a mayor from Michoacan state being threatened into making a pact with criminal group the Familia Michoacana. It is just one example of the risks involved. The clearly frightened official is told on tape that if he doesn't cooperate, his town "will burn."

The fact that three municipal police officers were among those arrested for Marin Lara's death also highlights the problem of official corruption in Veracruz. One PAN party mayor from the municipality of Las Minas was recently banned from office after Federal Police detained him on a highway transporting military weapons and drugs

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