Just one day after she was sworn in as mayor of the small town of Temixco on New Year’s Day, Gisela Mota was gunned down at her home by a group of hooded hitmen.
Three suspects are in custody, the Morelos state prosecutor’s office said on Sunday.
The gunmen are believed to have been hired by a local drug cartel
According to a preliminary inquiry, Los Rojos, a drug organization that is fighting with other rivals for control of territory in neighboring Guerrero state, paid the hitmen to kill the 34-year-old politician, who represented the leftist Democratic Revolution Party (PRD).
Morelos governor Graco Ramírez, who is also of the PRD, said on Sunday that security will be stepped up for the 33 mayors who are members of the same party.
“It is a new criminal challenge against the state, but we will not give up,” he said.
During the shootout in the town, located in Mexico’s Morelos state, two other suspects were killed by police.
Before she was elected mayor, Mota served as national deputy between 2012 and 2015. She was also secretary for youth affairs in Temixco and PRD councilor in Morelos. Her mother was a long-term leftist politician.
Because of its close proximity to Mexico City and temperate climate, Morelos – with 1.7 million inhabitants – is considered a favorite retreat for the capital’s high-end residents.
But in the past year, violence has rocked Morelos, where different cartels, including the Beltrán Leyva organization, the Guerreros Unidos and Los Rojos, have carried out bloody battles for control of drug routes in the area. The most common crimes are murder, extortion and kidnappings.
Residents have held marches in the state capital, Cuernavaca, to demand an end to rampant crime.
The drug violence that has gripped Mexico has claimed the lives of some 60,000 people since 2006, when then-President Felipe Calderón declared a government-backed war against the cartels.
President Enrique Peña Nieto has pooled together the country’s security forces and deployed them to troubled spots. Part of the plan has been to replace corrupt local police forces in many towns and fire mayors who are on the drug cartels’ payrolls.
English version by Martin Delfín.