Armed gunmen ambushed and killed the mayor of the Jalisco municipality of Tecalitlán on the morning of Monday, July 2.
At 28, Victor José Guadalupe Díaz Contreras was one of the youngest mayors in the state. He belonged to the Partido Revolucionario Institutional (PRI) and was elected to his post in 2015.
Messages posted on the PRI’s social media account repudiated the slaying and called for those responsible to be punished with “the full force of the law.” PRI Jalisco President Ramiro Hernandez described the murder as a tragedy, adding that Díaz Contreras was a talented, driven young man with a bright future ahead of him.
According to reports, at the time of the attack Díaz Contreras was accompanied by an official from the local Civil Registry, who received minor injuries.
The image of Tecalitlán, a predominantly farming region located 20 kilometers south of Ciudad Guzman, has been tainted by an excess of criminal activity of late. This is where three Italians disappeared earlier this year after allegedly running foul of local crime bosses. A number of marijuana plantations have been discovered and destroyed in the municipality in the past two decades, as well as several meth labs. The area is also known as a key center for gun running.
The Jalisco Attorney General’s Office (FGE) said that the Tecalitlán mayor had not filed any complaints of threats made against him with their office or requested any additional personal security.
A day before the incident, Díaz Contreras had posted a comment on his Facebook account describing an attack on his brother’s pickup that had occurred around 4 a.m. the previous evening
In a radio interview Wednesday, Jalisco Attorney General Raúl Sánchez Jiménez said five people were under investigation for their “probable involvement” in the murder. State police arrested three of the suspects aboard a vehicle that contained weapons and doses of narcotics, he said. Four other vehicles that may have been used in the attack on the mayor were also impounded, he added.
Sánchez told reporters that investigators have not ruled out a possible link between the murder of the mayor and the missing Italians.
Meanwhile, a relative of one of the three Italians who have been missing in Jalisco since the end of January has accused Jalisco authorities of ignoring them. Francesco Russo said the families of the missing men have offered three million pesos for any information regarding their whereabouts but neither state or local authorities are responding to their calls. “It seems like the entire investigation has come to a standstill,” he told Italian media.
Four municipal police officers were arrested in February after confessing to handing over the three men – Raffaele Russo, 54, Antonio Russo, 25, and Vincenzo Cimmino, 29 – to a criminal organization in Tecalitlán on January 31. One theory is that the Italians were small-time criminals and inadvertently muscled in on the territory of a local crime gang.
According to the FGE, the Italians were abducted by the police officers at a gas station before being driven off in the direction of Jilotlán de los Dolores. The FGE has not suggested any motive for the abduction.