The public safety secretary in Mexico’s Morelos state was removed from his post over the weekend in response to the killings last month of seven young men, one of whom was the son of poet Javier Sicilia, in Cuernavaca.
Gaston Menchaca (above) was replaced on Sunday by retired Gen. Gilberto Toledano, the Morelos state government said in a statement posted on its Web site.
Toledano has held military, diplomatic and other posts during his career.
Javier Sicilia called for marches against violence that drew thousands of people last Wednesday into the streets in cities across Mexico.
The poet has been staging a vigil in the main plaza in Cuernavaca, the capital of Morelos, scheduled to end on Wednesday.
Sicilia has demanded that the Morelos state government bring those responsible for killing his son, Juan Francisco, and the other six young men to justice.
The killings were apparently carried out by drug traffickers.
Drug cartels have expanded their presence in Morelos, located in central Mexico, in recent years, analysts say.
Morelos has been plagued by a war between rival drug cartels since Arturo Beltran Leyva died in a shootout with marines at a luxury condo in Cuernavaca on Dec. 16, 2009.
Beltran Leyva’s death put control of the Beltran Leyva drug cartel up for grabs, setting off a power grab by Edgar Valdez Villarreal, one of the drug lord’s top associates.
Hector Beltran Leyva took over control of the cartel after Arturo’s death, but he had to battle a rival faction led by Valdez Villarreal for control of the organization.
Valdez Villarreal, known as “La Barbie,” was arrested by the Federal Police on Aug. 30, 2010.
Former Public Safety Secretary Luis Angel Cabeza de Vaca was arrested last year on charges that he worked with drug traffickers.
Residents have staged numerous marches and other events to send the message to officials that they are fed up with the violence in the streets.
Sicilia, considered one of Mexico’s best writers, has criticized conservative Gov. Marco Adame’s handling of the public safety situation in Morelos.
“He tries to play dumb about what he has to do,” Sicilia said last week, adding that the state was “rotten.”
Sicilia’s steadfast and courageous calls for an end to the drug-related violence in Mexico, where 35,000 people have died since late 2006, have inspired society, drawing praise and support from people across the social spectrum.
Adame, who swore Toledano into office on Sunday, told the retired general that he needed to clean up the police as a first step in fighting crime.
The killers of the seven young men have been identified, but no arrests have been made in the case, the Morelos Attorney General’s Office said.
Prosecutors in Morelos asked Interpol to issue a migratory alert and a Red Notice for the suspected killers last week.
The names of the suspects, however, were not released by the AG’s office.
The bodies of the seven young men, including Juan Francisco Sicilia, were found inside a vehicle on March 28 in Temixco, a city near Cuernavaca.