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  HOME | Mexico

Mayor Assassinated in Northern Mexico

MEXICO CITY -- The mayor of the northern Mexican town of Otaez was found strangled this week, sources with the state prosecutor's office said Saturday.

A spokesman for Durango state's attorney general's office, or PGJD, told Efe that the body of 52-year-old Claudio Reyes Nuņez, a member of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, was found Friday in the state capital - also called Durango - wrapped in a blanket and with his face covered with adhesive tape.

Hours after the discovery, the PGJD confirmed "that the cause of death was asphyxiation" and that judging by the state of the body it is presumed the mayor was murdered by organized crime enforcers.

State Attorney General Daniel Garcia Leal said Saturday that the probe into the murder "began immediately and will continue without ruling out any line" of investigation.

Reyes is the fourth Mexican mayor to be killed since 2005, El Universal newspaper reported Saturday.

The others were Fernando Chavez, mayor of Tomatlan, killed on July 8, 2005, in the state of Michoacan; Marcelo Ibarra of Villa Madero, murdered on June 2, 2008 in that same state; and Salvador Vergara, mayor of Ixtapan de la Sal, in Mexico state, who was killed on Oct. 4 of last year.

Manuel Angulo Torres, the mayor of Topia, another town in Durango state, also has been missing since June 3, 2008, the same daily reported.

A total of 639 people have been murdered nationwide in 2009, according to unofficial figures published Saturday by El Universal.

Mexico has been racked in recent years by a wave of drug-related violence, with different gangs battling each other over lucrative smuggling routes to the United States.

Armed groups linked to Mexico's drug cartels murdered around 1,500 people nationwide in 2006 and another 2,700 in 2007. Newspapers pegged last year's death toll at some 5,630.

Since taking office in December 2006, President Felipe Calderon has deployed 30,000 army troops and federal police across the country in a bid to crush the cartels, but despite a string of high-profile arrests and record cocaine seizures the pace of the killings has only increased.

 

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