The mayors of Huehuetenango, a western department in Guatemala known for high levels of drug-related activity, have called on the federal government to increase security measures after a spike in violence this week .
According to Guatemala’s Prensa Libre, the violence began with the kidnapping and subsequent murder of Emilia Quan, a sociologist who conducted research for an NGO in Todos Santos Cuchumatán. In response to the death, local townspeople organized a mob to capture the alleged perpetrators, identified as Germán Arturo López Velíz and Evelio Aristides Rivas Martínez, who were then lynched.
The day after, three men and one woman of Mexican origin were shot and killed near the village of La Reforma, in the border region with Mexico. Authorities report that gunmen armed with an AK-47 and an M-16 ambushed and killed the victims in their vehicle, subsequently lighting it on fire. The mayors will hold a meeting later this week with Interior Minister Carlos Menocal, and Defense Minister Abraham Valenzuela in order to address the worsening public security situation in the border region.
Huehuetenango is a key transit point for drugs flowing through Guatemala, as InSight chronicled in a recent report. In November 2008, clashes between large trafficking organizations left dozens dead, and there are still frequent skirmishes.