Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Mayor Among Over a Dozen Killed in Mexico

Friday, February 26, 2010 |

El Mezquital, Durango - The mayor of a city in Durango state was among more than a dozen people murdered in Mexico in the past two days, officials said.

Manuel Estrada Escalante, mayor of the city of El Mezquital, was gunned down at a restaurant on Monday night.

The 34-year-old Estrada Escalante, a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, was buried on Tuesday.

At least six gunmen attacked the mayor and lawmaker Mariano Soto, who is listed in serious condition at a hospital, Mexican media reported.

Ramon Mendivil Sotelo, mayor of the city of Guadalupe y Calvo, was murdered last Thursday, Chihuahua state officials said.

A group of around 20 gunmen, meanwhile, killed 13 people, including five police officers, in a community in the southern state of Oaxaca, a municipal official said.

The gunmen went into two houses in the community of Vicente Camalote and killed eight people, including some children, Acatlan de Perez Figueroa Mayor Nicolas Villalva Arguello said.

The five police officers died when they went to help the victims and were met by gunfire, Villalva said.

The community of Vicente Camalote is in the Papaloapan Basin region, on the border with Veracruz state.

The Maciel and Hernandez families, who own the houses attacked by the gunmen, are well known in the region’s business community.

Initial reports said the gunmen fled in seven Hummers.

The bodies of four men killed execution-style were found Tuesday in Tampico, a port city in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, police said.

A message was left on the bodies, but police did not reveal its content.

The bodies were found inside a house in the Infonavit Cañada neighborhood, which was cordoned off by army troops and police, prosecutor Norberto Montes said.

The bodies were taken to the coroner’s office, which will perform the autopsies, Montes said.

Officials in Tamaulipas have called for calm in the wake of rumors about shootouts that prompted parents to keep their children out of school.

The mayor of the border city of Nuevo Laredo, Ramon Garza Barrios, asked citizens Tuesday to stay calm amid rumors of acts of violence and curfews.

“I want to tell the people to be calm, that many rumors like this one have come out about crime in our city. We are in contact with federal authorities, with the army, with the state Attorney General’s Office, with all the police agencies, and we have not confirmed anything,” the mayor said.

Classes were suspended Tuesday for all grades in Nuevo Laredo due to rumors about shootouts.

The rumors also spread to other cities in the northern part of Tamaulipas, which borders Texas.

The Gulf cartel, one of Mexico’s most powerful criminal organizations, operates in Tamaulipas.

Mexico’s drug cartels have been battling for control of the smuggling routes into the United States.

Mexico has been plagued in recent years by drug-related violence blamed on powerful cartels.

Last year, according to the El Universal newspaper, was the deadliest in Mexico in the past decade, with 7,724 people killed in violent incidents attributed to organized crime groups.

So far this year, drug-related violence has claimed the lives of more than 1,400 people, the daily says. EFE

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