Drug cartel kills 20 in attack on city hall in southern Mexico


SAN MIGUEL TOTLAPAN, Mexico—Drug gangs shot dead 20 people, including the mayor and his father, in the mountains of southern Mexico’s Guerrero state, officials said Thursday.

Residents began burying the victims, but a video posted on social media showed men calling themselves the Tequireros gang claiming responsibility for the shooting.

The Guerrero State Security Council said gunmen stormed the city hall in the village of San Miguel Totrapán on Wednesday and opened fire on a meeting the mayor was holding with other officials.

Among the dead were Mayor Conrad Mendoza and his father, former mayor Juan Mendoza Acosta. Most of the other victims were believed to be local officials.

At the time, the walls of City Hall, surrounded by children’s rides, were riddled with bullets. But residents said the attack that killed the mayor occurred several blocks away.

Totlapán is a geographically large but sparsely populated mountainous region in one of Mexico’s most conflict-ridden areas known as the Tierra Caliente.

With so many casualties, backhoes were brought into the town cemetery to dig out graves as residents began burying their dead on Thursday. By noon, two bodies were already buried in him, and ten more empty pits awaited him.

A procession of about 100 residents singing hymns solemnly walked behind a truck carrying the coffin of one man killed in the shooting. As they approached the cemetery, some men lifted the coffin from the truck and walked to the waiting grave. Dozens of soldiers were stationed at the entrance to the town.

Ricardo Mejia, Mexico’s assistant secretary of public security, said the Tequileros were fighting Familia Michoacana gangs in the area and that the video had been verified for authenticity.

“This act occurred in the context of a conflict between criminal gangs,” Mejia said. “A group known as the Tequirrero has dominated the area for some time. was also involved.”

Totlapán was ruled for years by drug cartel boss Ravel Jacobo de Almonte, nicknamed “El Tequilero” (“The Tequila Drinker”).

In his only known public appearance, De Almonte was videotaped in 2015 drinking with Elder Mendoza, who was the town’s next mayor. He was forced to attend the meeting.

In that video, De Almonte appeared drunk, muttered inaudibly, and had to be propped up in a sitting position by one of his henchmen.

In 2016, Totlapan locals, tired of being kidnapped by Tequileros, kidnapped the mother of a gang leader to capitalize on the release of others.

Tequirrero has long relied on the trafficking of opium paste from local poppy growers, but increased use of the synthetic opioid fentanyl has reduced demand for opium paste and reduced the level of violence in Guerrero. did.

Also on Wednesday, in the neighboring state of Morelos, a state legislator was shot dead in the city of Cuernavaca, south of Mexico City.

Two armed men traveling on a motorcycle shot and killed Lieutenant Governor Gabriella Marin as she exited her vehicle outside a pharmacy. Marin’s patient was reportedly injured in the attack.

“Based on the information we have, we cannot rule out a politically related motive,” Mejia said of the killing. Later, he only took office in the legislature in July, and there have been some legal disputes over his seat.”

According to data from Etellekt Consultores, Mendoza’s murder brings the number of mayors killed during President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration to 18, and the number of state legislators to eight.

Mexico’s Congress this week is debating the president’s proposal to extend the military’s police mandate until 2028. Last month, lawmakers approved Lopez Obrador’s push to transfer the ostensibly civilian National Guard to military control.

Associated Press