Six city police officers were arrested on Friday in connection with the killing of a mayor in northern Mexico as the country’s escalating drug violence targets public officials.
The suspects included the officer who guarded the house where Santiago Mayor Edelmiro Cavazos was seized last Sunday. The officer was kidnapped with the mayor, but was later freed unharmed.
The officers confessed to being involved in the Cavazos’ killing, said Nuevo Leon state Attorney General Alejandro Garza y Garza.
“We still looking for others who were involved as well,” Garza y Garza said.
The body of the 38-year-old mayor was found handcuffed and gagged on Wednesday outside of his town, a popular weekend getaway for residents of the industrial city of Monterrey.
One of the officers took part directly in the kidnapping, while the others kept watch on roads surrounding the mayor’s home, said Adrian de la Garza Santos, director of the state investigations agency.
Shortly after the kidnapping, the guard on duty told authorities he had been thrown in the trunk of one of the kidnappers’ cars and driven around for 15 minutes before being dumped unharmed by the side of the road, de la Garza said. The guard is now accused of being involved.
Cavazos’ death comes amid increasing violence in the northeast of the country attributed to a dispute between the Gulf cartel and its former allies, the Zetas.
Meanwhile, a federal judge presiding over the case of former Cancun mayor facing drug-related charges survived an attack on Thursday in the west-coast state of Nayarit, said a federal official who was not authorized to be identified.
The assault, which killed one of two bodyguards of Judge Carlos Alberto Elorza, came hours after Mexican President Felipe Calderon said Mexico should consider appointing anonymous judges for drug-trafficking trials.
Calderon’s proposal in a forum on security on Thursday was unexpected because it contradicts the efforts he has promoted to build a more open judicial system.
Elorza is the judge in the case of Gregorio Sanchez, a former Cancun mayor who was forced out of the Quintana Roo gubernatorial campaign when he was charged with drug trafficking and money laundering.
The Nuevo Leon attorney general didn’t indicate which gang may have been responsible in Cavazos’ case, which has prompted authorities to call for more patrols by both the army and police in Nuevo Leon.
Mauricio Fernandez, mayor of the San Pedro Garza Garcia, another town on the outskirts of Monterrey, said Cavazos had received death threats from gangs warning him to stay out of their way and had sought advice on how to handle the threats.
Officials at the state attorney general’s office said Cavazos had never informed authorities about any threats. General Guillermo Moreno, commander in Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas states, said the army had never received complaints from the mayor or requests for protection.