CHILPANCINGO, Mexico – A Mexican environmentalist who fought illegal logging by drug traffickers in the mountains of the southern state of Guerrero was murdered, officials said.
Javier Torres Cruz was killed on Monday in La Morena, a community outside the city of Petatlan, Guerrero Attorney General Alberto Lopez Rosas said.
Few details are known about the killing, Lopez Rosas said.
“We know he was murdered, but because of the remote location of the town we don’t know why he was killed or how,” the AG said.
Torres Cruz and his family fought to protect the highlands in the Petatlan Mountains, keeping Indian chiefs and drug traffickers from cutting down trees to grow the poppies used to produce opium, morphine and heroin.
Local authorities accused Torres Cruz of belonging to a guerrilla group, but the allegations were never proven.
Torres Cruz identified a drug trafficker as the killer of human rights activist Digna Ochoa, whose 2001 death has officially been ruled a suicide.
The environmentalist was kidnapped and held hostage for 10 days in December 2008.
Torres Cruz said he was abducted by soldiers.
Guerrero, located on the Pacific Ocean and a large producer of opium poppies and marijuana, is currently the scene of a turf war involving the Beltran Leyva, La Familia Michoacana and Los Zetas drug cartels.
The drug war left 370 people dead last year alone in Acapulco, a popular destination for domestic tourists in the state.
Guerrero, which suffers from a high level of poverty, has also been affected by other types of conflicts, and guerrilla groups have sprouted up there.
Guerrillas operated in the state in the 1960s and the People’s Revolutionary Army, or EPR, appeared 15 years ago.
The rebel group claimed responsibilty for attacks in the summer and fall of 2007 on pipelines that caused no casualties but crippled operations at more than 2,500 firms in 10 states.
The EPR, which has traditionally operated only in southern Mexico, came to prominence with a June 1996 attack on police in the Oaxaca seaside town of Huatulco, a clash that left 13 rebels, cops and civilians dead.
The EPR defines its cause as commemorating and denouncing a June 1995 massacre of 17 Indian peasants in the town of Aguas Blancas, Guerrero. EFE