MEXICO CITY – The governor of the western Mexican state of Sinaloa, where 24 people were found slain this week, said he sent his children out of the country after learning of a possible plot to kidnap one of them.
“It is necessary to take (preventive) measures,” Mario Lopez Valdez told Radio Formula, adding that the act of governing has become “difficult and dangerous.”
Intelligence intercepts revealed discussions about abducting one of the governor’s children with an eye toward swapping the captive for one or more crime bosses jailed in Sinaloa, he said.
“We will take all the measures necessary so that we are not impeded in fulfilling the responsibility we have, which is to enforce the law,” the governor said.
Several other senior Sinaloa officials involved in the fight against organized crime have also sent their families abroad.
Asked about the 24 bodies found Wednesday in Culiacan – the state capital – and other locations in Sinaloa, Lopez Valdez suggested a possible connection to recent gangland killings in Guadalajara, Mexico’s second city, and the Gulf coast state of Veracruz.
“They are groups that are in confrontation, fighting for the territories ... and it can be that an attack is committed in some part of the country and later the score is settled in another state,” he said.
Sinaloa is the bastion of the drug cartel led by the fugitive Joaquin “el Chapo” Guzman, said by Forbes magazine to be worth at least $1 billion.
Despite its dominant position, Chapo’s mob faces challenges in Sinaloa from other groups, such as the gang formed by the Beltran Leyva brothers.
Conflict among the cartels and between the criminals and the security forces has claimed some 50,000 lives in Mexico over the past five years, according to figures compiled by capital daily La Jornada.
Drug-related violence has skyrocketed since December 2006, when newly inaugurated President Felipe Calderon militarized the struggle against the cartels. EFE