Mayor Killed as Violence Escalates in Guerrero, Mexico

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The mayor of a small town in Guerrero state, Mexico was kidnapped and killed by unidentified perpetrators, the fifth mayor killed in Mexico so far this year.

According to El Universal, the kidnapping reportedly took place August 19 on a southwestern highway, where 500 police officers have been deployed as part of a security surge in Guerrero. The body of Jose Eduviges Nava Altamirano, mayor of Zacualpan, was discovered late Saturday afternoon. According to the police report he was beaten to death.

Thirteen mayors were targeted and killed by criminal gangs in 2010, in a wave of violence taken as evidence that Mexico’s gangs are prepared to intimidate and kill in order to keep municipal authorities in line. Because mayors are in charge of determining security policy on a local level — including appointing police chiefs — they are seen as key assets to criminal organizations looking to control police activity in their territory.

Nava’s death comes amid a crisis of drug-related violence in Guerrero state, which registered 787 homicides during the first half of 2011, making it the third most violent state in the country. Much of the fighting has been concentrated in Acapulco, where gangs are fighting over control of the sea port. Here, many of the precursor chemicals used in methamphetamine production enter from Asia. The turf war involves two offshoot groups known as the Independent Cartel of Acapulco and the South Pacific Cartel, descended from rival cells in the Beltran Leyva Organization.

The conflict between these rival gangs recently provoked Guerrero’s attorney general to publicly call for a “truce” in the state.

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