Gunmen assassinate mayor of Mexican municipality caught in drug cartel war
Morelia, Mexico, Mar 10 (EFE).- Gunmen on Thursday shot dead César Arturo Valencia Caballero, the mayor of Aguililla, a municipality in the Mexican state of Michoacán, a community caught in a war between drug cartels.
Gilberto Vergara, a respected Catholic priest who has mediated for peace in Aguililla, confirmed to Efe that the mayor was assassinated around 3.30 pm in a van owned by the city council a few meters from a sports facility in the downtown area.
Valencia Caballero, who won the mayoralty on June 6, 2021, received two bullets to the chest and one more in the neck, and died inside the vehicle, according to Vergara.
“I am at the scene of the events. I am next to César’s body. He came in his vehicle, a vehicle from the presidency – mayor’s office. He was alone and they appeared to have stopped him – the murderers. They probably approached him to talk with him and they shot him,” he said.
Officers of the National Guard, the Mexican army and the State Police deployed an operation by land and air in search of the gunmen, whose identities have not been revealed by the authorities.
The government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador had announced in recent days the recovery of security in Aguililla after more than two years of bloody fighting between drug cartels, which caused the exodus of more than 10,000 residents.
Governor Alfredo Ramírez Bedolla ordered the state police to coordinate with the State Attorney General’s Office in the search for the suspects throughout Aguililla, located in the so-called Tierra Caliente region of Michoacán, and once the cradle of Mexican drug trafficking in the 70s, 80s and 90s.
“We strongly condemn the murder of the Mayor of Aguililla, César Arturo Valencia Caballero. I have issued instructions so that the events are thoroughly investigated, clarified as soon as possible and those responsible are punished,” Ramírez Bedolla wrote on Twitter.
According to information from the security departments of the Michoacan government, headed by Ramirez Bedolla, in the Tierra Caliente region of Michoacan, which is made up of 10 municipalities, self-styled criminal organizations such as the Jalisco New Generation Cartel in Tepalcatepec, the La Familia Michoacana cartel and the Knights Templar cartel operate.
These organizations fight over the control of illicit activities such as the production and trafficking of marijuana, methamphetamines, heroin and, recently, cocaine. They are also responsible for countless extortions, kidnappings, vehicle theft and attacks on civilians.
In the last two years, hitmen have tunneled the highways that link Aguililla with the municipalities of Tepalcatepec, Buenavista and Apatzingán, causing a serious crisis in basic goods such as food, medicine and fuel.
With the assassination of Valencia Caballero, there have now been 16 mayors killed in the current six-year term, indicated Etellekt consulting firm, which reports political violence in the country, and specified that the figure is 23 percent higher than that registered in the same period of the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018). EFE