The murder of the mayor-elect of a small town in San Luis Potosi coincides with reports of infighting within the Zetas, as rival factions battle for control over the central Mexican state.
Edgar Morales (pictured), the mayor-elect of Matehuala, San Luis Potosi, and his campaign manager, Francisco Hernandez, were killed by unknown gunmen while driving home from a party on August 12. Hernandez’s wife survived with only minor injuries.
Elected on July 1, Morales was a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The party has condemned the murder and demanded a full investigation by local authorities.
The governor of San Luis Potosi, Fernando Toranzo, announced that an unspecified number of additional troops arrived over the weekend and promised to hold a meeting of mayors and military commanders this week to develop strategies to improve security in the municipalities. He also stated that it is too early to declare any links between Morales’ murder and organized crime.
InSight Crime Analysis
The once-peaceful state of San Luis Potosi has experienced a sharp increase in violence in recent months. There were 39 murders in July, compared to 13 during the same month in 2011. So far 33 people have been killed in the first two weeks of August alone, including the massacre of 14 people whose bodies were discovered in an abandoned van on August 9.
The state attorney general has attributed the wave of violence to a fight between rival groups of the Zetas for control of San Luis Potosi. According to Mexican journalist Jorge Fernandez Menendez, the 14 bodies were members of the Coahuila-based faction led by Ivan Velazquez, alias "El 50" or “El Taliban.” They were killed by the group loyal to Miguel Angel Treviño, alias 'Z-40.'
News of the inter-cartel conflict coincides with rumors of a split between Treviño and the other principal Zetas boss, Heriberto Lazcano, alias “El Lazca” or "Z-3." Over the past few months, narcomantas have appeared throughout northeastern Mexico accusing both leaders of betraying their fellow Zetas. However, as InSight Crime has reported in the past, the varying factions and accusations suggest a general breakdown in the Zetas command structure that may result in sustained conflict for territorial control.