MEXICO CITY (AP) — The mayor-elect of a small town in Mexico has been arrested for allegedly masterminding the killing of the candidate he replaced in the June 6 elections, prosecutors said Thursday.
Omar Ramírez Fuentes won the election in the town of Cazones because of the popularity of René Tovar, who was shot to death two days before the vote. Ramírez Fuentes served as Tovar’s campaign manager and was officially listed as his substitute from the start of the race.
Prosecutors in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz said Thursday that Ramírez Fuentes had his boss killed so he could take over as mayor.
There has been some evidence that drug cartels may have been behind many of the killings of three dozen candidates murdered in the run-up to the June 6 elections for mayorships, governors and Congress.
Most of the victims were running for local posts, and experts said the cartels want to co-opt local police and government because it makes it easier to operate kidnapping, drug and extortion schemes.
But the killing in Cazones, a town of about 24,000 near the Gulf shore, suggests that motives in the killings may have been varied.
Tovar and Ramírez Fuentes were running on the ticket of the small Citizen’s Movement party. Another suspect has been detained who may have been the triggerman in the hit.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador referred to the case during his news conference on Thursday, saying, “According to the investigations, one of the possible suspects was his (Tovar’s) campaign manager, so that he could take over the candidacy and win.”
“We don’t want this, this horror,” López Obrador said,
The Veracruz state election board will meet in the next few days to decide how to fill the mayoral post.
López Obrador also said Thursday that another suspect had been detained in the 2019 ambush slayings of nine U.S.-Mexican dual citizens near the northern border, bringing to more than 20 the number of arrests in the case.
“Practically all of those who participated (in the killings) have been detained,” the president said.
Adrián LeBarón, the father of one of the murdered woman, wrote in his Twitter account that the suspect arrested was known by the nickname “Tolteca” and was a leader of the gang, adding, “Today there is one criminal less on the streets.”
The three women and six children from the extended Langford, LeBaron and Miller families were ambushed and slain by suspected drug gang assassins on Nov. 4, 2019.
Initial investigations suggested a squad of gunmen from a drug gang that originated in the border city of Ciudad Juarez set up the ambush to kill members of a rival cartel. However, relatives of the victims say that at some point, the gunmen must have known who they were killing.