MEXICO CITY – The mayor of Vista Hermosa, a city in the western Mexican state of Michoacan, was killed by two suspected hitmen as he was driving home, an official told Efe.
Octavio Manuel Carrillo was about 100 meters (some 325 feet) from his house Tuesday when two men in an automobile opened fire with 9 mm pistols, hitting the mayor in the arm and chest.
Carrillo’s wife and a police officer assigned to guard his house drove him to a hospital in the neighboring state of Jalisco, where he was pronounced dead a few minutes after arrival.
Police launched a manhunt for the gunmen and found their vehicle abandoned on the side of a road.
The motive for the mayor’s killing has not been determined.
Several drug cartels operate in Michoacan, which has a long Pacific coastline ideal for smuggling narcotics into the United States.
The Vista Hermosa mayor’s killing occurred two days after gunmen attacked a vehicle in Chihuahua Gov. Jose Reyes Baeza’s motorcade, killing a bodyguard and wounding two others.
The shooting happened after “an altercation that started a clash with rifles between members of the security detail and people aboard two vehicles,” the government of Chihuahua, which is on the border with the United States, said.
The incident occurred Sunday night on an avenue in Chihuahua city, leaving one of the assailants in critical condition with a head wound.
The other suspects managed to get away, officials said.
Reyes Baeza said in a statement that he was not the target of an attack “at any time.”
Mexico has been plagued in recent years by drug-related violence, with powerful cartels battling each other and the security forces, as rival gangs vie for control of lucrative smuggling and distribution routes.
Armed groups linked to the cartels murdered around 2,700 people in 2007 and 1,500 in 2006, with the 2008 death toll soaring to 5,630, according to a tally by the Mexico City daily El Universal.
So far this year, about 1,000 people have died in the violence in Mexico.
Since taking office in December 2006, President Felipe Calderon has deployed more than 30,000 soldiers and federal police to nearly a dozen of Mexico’s 31 states in a bid to stem the wave of violence unleashed by drug traffickers.
The anti-drug operation, however, has failed to put a dent in the violence due, according to experts, to drug cartels’ ability to buy off the police and even high-ranking prosecutors. EFE