Early Sunday morning in the Mexican state of Michoacán, authorities detained 27 police officers–who make up the entire police force–in the central town of Ocampo on suspicion of involvement in the murder of a local mayoral candidate. In addition to the police officers being arrested, local public security secretary Oscar González was also detained after local police officers tried to serve him with a warrant the previous day, but officers under González’s control fired shots into the air, forcing them to retreat.
Thursday morning, 64-year-old Fernando Ángeles Juárez, was shot outside of one of his properties by unknown assailants. Local media reported that three gunmen broke into the ranch just as he was preparing to begin campaigning for the day, and proceeded to shoot and kill Fernando Ángeles Juárez as he tried to escape.
According to Deutsche Welle website dw.com, state officials stated that the police officers were taken in by the internal affairs department and questioned “in the event anyone has taken part in acts that violate the town’s codes.” No details were provided on links suspected between the police and murder of mayoral candidate Fernando Angeles Juarez last week.
The newest political murder will now be added to a growing list of over 112 politicians that have been murdered since September 2017, ahead of the general elections which are set for this Sunday in Mexico. Mr. Ángeles was the third politician to be killed in Michoacán in just over a week. In 2007, almost 29,000 people were murdered in Mexico, making it the largest number since records began.
The recent wave of political murders in Mexico has cemented the 2018 elections as the bloodiest in modern history. Other casualties include another mayoral candidate in Michoacán, Omar Gomez Lucatero, who was running in the township of Aguililla which is known to be ran by gangs. Recent politicians who have fallen victim to the cartels are thought to have been chosen either because they are associated with criminal rivals or because they have refused bribes and would not bow to the pressure from cartels to do their bidding.
As reported by the AP, Alejandro Hope, a Mexican security analyst considered the spike in violence was partly because drug cartels are now involved in fuel theft, extortion and have been known to extort money from local governments by forcing them to sign inflated public contracts. It’s also believed that some portions of the police force are highly corrupt and are taking orders from the cartels to commit crimes such as murders and kidnappings. “With the evolution of crime, it becomes much more important to gain control over territory, over local governments,” Hope told the AP.
Ángeles had originally considered running as an independent, but eventually settled with the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), one of Mexico’s main parties.
Miguel Malagón, one of his closest friends and political aides, told El Universal newspaper, “He couldn’t stand seeing so much poverty, inequality and corruption and so he decided to run.” Malagón went on to say that the candidate had not received any threats prior to the murder that he was aware of. “He was a person who was very well loved in this town, Mr. Malagón said. “We had no warning that his life was in danger.”
According to travel.state.gov, The U.S. Department of State has advised against travel to Mexican states of Guerrero, Tamaulipas, Sinaloa, Colima, and Michoacán, officially issuing a “do not travel” status.
Mexicans will head to the polls this coming Sunday, the 1st of July, to choose new senators, new members of the Chamber of Deputies, and a new president. Over 3,400 positions both at local and regional levels will also be up for grabs.
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