A politician in Mexico has been hacked to death in a machete attack during a secret media interview, leaving questions over who killed him, how they knew where he was, and whether it was linked to his alleged criminal associations.
Michoacan state legislator Osbaldo Esquivel Lucatero had gone to a secluded location in state capital Morelia on September 11, where he was giving an interview to a local journalist in the back of his car. Four men apparently arrived, forced the men out of the car, robbed them and then hacked them with a machete. The journalist and Esquivel’s brother survived the attack, but the politician died after arriving at hospital, reported Proceso.
Esquivel served as mayor of the Michoacan municipality of Buenavista Tomatlan until 2011 and was alleged to have links to the Familia Michoacan cartel, reported Red Politica. He was one of dozens of politicians detained for alleged links to organized crime in 2009. The politicians were released without charge several months later.
According to Proceso, Esquivel had previously received death threats, the last coming in May.
InSight Crime Analysis
Esquivel represented the embattled district of Coalcoman, a region heavily contested by criminal groups, where politicians are often forced to pick one side or the other.
One of those groups is the Knights Templar, which emerged from an acrimonious split within the Familia Michoacan. While it remains unclear who killed Esquivel, if his earlier links to the Familia Michoacan are genuine, he may have been killed by the Knights for continuing to side with them, or by the Familia or other rivals for switching allegiance to the Knights.
SEE ALSO: More Knights Templar Coverage
Michoacan is also a hotbed for vigilante “self-defense” forces, which claim to defend communities against organized crime, although the Knights Templar have accused them of being a front for another criminal group, the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG).
Earlier this year, vigilantes chased out the mayor of Buenavista Tomatlan — the role Esquivel held when he was detained in 2009 — and killed his brother. It is possible the attack on Esquivel was also linked to the self-defense movement.
While it remains unclear who killed the politician, the fact it appears to be a targeted attack during a clandestine meeting with only his brother and a journalist present raises the possibility of a newsroom leak, with criminal groups known to keep journalists on their payroll.