FREEDOM MAYORS

The killing of Mexican mayors
By Adriana Maciel, City Mayors Fellow*

Killing of Mexican mayorsON THIS PAGE: Mayors murdered by gangs and rivals ||| Number of mayors murdered ||| Four states account for most mayoral killings ||| Gangs kill honest mayors ||| Mayors killed during the presidency of AMLO ||| Mayors killed during the presidency of Nieto ||| Mayors killed during the presidency of Calderón ||| Mayors killed during the presidency of Fox ||| Research and sources |||

ON OTHER PAGES: Freedom Mayors ||| The murdered mayors of the Philippines ||| Mayor of Tel Aviv ||| Mayor of Istanbul ||| Corrupt American mayors

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Mexican mayors murdered by
criminal gangs and political rivals

January 2023: Since 2005, when Fernando Chávez López, municipal president of Buenavista Tomatlán, Michoacán was shot dead by three hitmen, the killings of mayors, other local government officers and politicians as well as journalist and business people in Mexico have been relentless. According to City Mayors Research, during the course of four presidencies, some 102 mayors, substitute mayors and mayors-elect were killed. In separate research, Nexos Magazine recorded some 200 mayoral killings between 2005 and the end of 2018, a figure that includes former mayors. (In its research, City Mayors only included mayors in office, substitute mayors, and mayors that were elected but killed before taking office (mayors-elect)).


Number of mayors murdered
shot up between 2006 and 2018
Most of the murders were carried out by organized crime, such as members of drug cartels and gangs, but there have also been instances of killings carried out by political rivals. Due to Mexico’s weak justice system, the crimes are committed with almost impunity, with only very few cases reaching the courts, let alone leading to convictions. Since the inauguration of the current president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) in December 2018, 19 mayors have been killed, with three arrests being made and one successful conviction achieved. During the presidency of Enrique Nieto, from December 2012 to December 2018, some 42 mayors or mayors-elect were murdered. There were no convictions or arrests.

The 2022/2023 research by City Mayors shows that the killings increased dramatically during the presidencies of Felipe Calderón Hinojosa from 2006 to 2012 (37 killings) and of Enrique Peña Nieto from 2012 to 2018 (42 killings). Only four mayoral murders were recorded during the presidency of Vicente Fox Quezada from 2000 to 2006.

It has been accepted for some time that former president Calderon’s ‘war’ against drug trafficking cartels gave rise to ruthless turf conflicts between rival gangs and cartels which also resulted in massive killings and kidnapping of government officials, business people and civilians.

In the early years of the current presidency – AMLO took office in December 2018 – there appeared to be a lull in cases of drug-related and political killings, but the numbers started to rise again in 2022. The most recent killing occurred on 30 December 2022, when the mayor of Rafael Delgado (Veracruz) was shot dead by armed men. Some 19 mayoral killings took place between the beginning of 2019 and the end of 2022.

Four Mexican states account for
65 per cent of mayoral killings
The research by City Mayors (from 2005 to 2022) also shows that four states account for 65 per cent of the killings – Mexico, a country with a population of 127 million people is made up of 32 states. The states with most killings are Oaxaca (population 4.1 million) 22 per cent, Veracruz (Population 8.1 million) 18 per cent, Michoacán (4.7 million) 17 per cent and Guerrero (Population 3.5 million) nine per cent. In Estado de México (Mexico State) with almost 17 million inhabitants there were four killings, equal to four per cent of total killings. The country’s capital, Mexico City, (9.2 million) did not report any mayoral murders.

The City Mayors research also found out that almost 94 per cent of the mayors, alternate mayors and mayors-elect were men. Currently, Mexico has 49 female mayors, which account for 5.4 per cent of the total.


Gangs said to kill to prevent
honest mayors from taking office
In 2018, the Baker Institute for Public Policy, part of the Rice University in Texas, published research on mayoral homicides in Mexico. In the report ‘Mayoral Homicides in Mexico: A situational analysis on the victims, perpetrators and locations of attacks’ the authors David Pérez Esparza and Helden De Paz Mancera examined the key factors that explain why local officials - specifically mayors, former mayors, mayors-elect, and mayoral candidates - are being killed in Mexico.

The report’s authors speculate about some of the reasons behind the killings. They believe that organized criminal gangs (OCGs) want to deter honest, reputable and competent individuals/politicians from running for office and instead promote candidates who do not pose a threat to their interests. Criminals also want to prevent the elections of public officials with links to rival OCGs.

The report also touches on the question why so many former mayors fall victim to criminal killings. During the past 15 years, twice as many out-of-office mayors as serving mayors were murdered. One of the reasons may be revenge but because so few homicide crimes end up in court there is no clear evidence to support any theory.

However, it is a reasonable assumption that mayors of smaller towns are in greater danger of falling victim to murderous criminals than their peers in larger cities. Some 53 per cent of mayoral murders occur in communities of less than 20,000 people. “Small municipalities just don’t have the resources and police infrastructure to adequately protect their town hall officials.”


Mayors killed during the Presidency of
Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO)

(December 2018 to date)


Municipality
(State)
Mayor
Elected
Killed
Reports
Rafael Delgado
(Veracruz)
Isauro Ambrosio Tocohua Elected: June 2021
Killed: December 2022
The mayor was attacked while driving his truck on his way home and was intercepted by several armed men who opened fire at least six times.
San Pedro Mixtepec
(Oaxaca)
Crispín Hernández Vásquez (Mayor-elect) Elected: 2022 by traditions and customs
Killed: November 2022
The mayor-elect was shot dead when he was heading to a school where he was working as a doorman.
San Miguel Totolapan
(Guerrero)
Conrado Mendoza Almeda Elected: June 2021
Killed: October 2022
Members of the armed group Los Tequileros executed the mayor together with his father and seven municipal police officers.
Teopisca
(Chiapas)
Rubén Valdez Elected: June 2021
Killed: June 2022
Mayor of Teopisca, Chiapas, from the Green Party, was attacked with by armed men on a motorcycle when he was leaving his house.
Aguililla
(Michoacán)
César Arturo Valencia Elected: June 2021
Killed: March 2022
Besieged by the criminal organizations Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación and Carteles Unidos, Aguililla municipality has been one of the most violent in the state. Reports indicate that Mayor Valencia was in his vehicle outside the soccer field of the municipality, when armed men shot him dead.
Contepec
(Michoacán)
Enrique Velázquez Orozco Elected: June 2021
Killed: February 2022
After several days missing, the mayor was found shot dead.
Xoxocotla
(Morelos)
Benjamín López Elected December 2021
Killed: January 2022
Mayor López was shot outside his home by armed men only 10 days after taking office. Benjamín López Palacios was appointed as municipal president after his brother, Juan José López Palacios, who was initially to hold the position, died suddenly of a heart attack in June 2021.
Zapotlán de Juárez
(Hidalgo)
Manuel Aguilar García Elected: October 2020
Killed: June 2021
Armed men shot the mayor as he arrived home. He died on his way to hospital.
Casimiro Castillo
(Jalisco)
Alfredo Sevilla Elected: July 2018
Killed: March 2021
Mayor Sevilla was seeking re-election for the Movimiento Ciudadano party when he was reported missing for a few days. He was shot in the head before his car was thrown off a cliff.
Chahuites
(Oaxaca)
Leobardo Ramos Lázaro Elected: July 2018
Killed: February 2021
The mayor was shot dead while traveling in his truck. The murder occurred in the middle of the electoral year and three months after the political campaigns began to elect 153 municipal presidents in the state.
Jamapa
(Veracruz)
Florisel Ríos Delfín Elected: June 2017
Killed: November 2020
The mayor was kidnapped from her home by ten armed men. She was found dead early the next morning in a rural area of Medellín de Bravo, a neighbouring municipality. Police speculated that an organized criminal group was behind the attack. Ríos was the second female mayor murdered in the State of Veracruz. Maricela Vallejo, the mayor of Veracruz's Mixtla de Altamirano municipality, was murdered in April 2019 alongside her husband and driver.
Temósachic
(Chihuahua)
Carlos Ignacio Beltrán Bencomo Elected: July 2018
Killed: September 2020
Found dead three days after being kidnapped by an armed group outside his office. The body of the mayor was found on the side of the road in the municipality of Bocoyna, covered with a blanket, with a plastic bag on his head, and a gunshot wound on the head.
Jalapa de Díaz
(Oaxaca)
Arturo García Velásquez Elected: July 2018
Killed: December 2019
The mayor was assassinated by a commando alongside his municipal trustee, Javier Terrero at a Christmas festival, Both men were shot at point-blank range.
Valle de Chalco
(Estado de México)
Francisco Tenorio Contreras Elected: July 2018
Killed: October 2019
Mayor Tenorio, from Morena party was assassinated by armed youngsters during a tour in the Geovillas gated community on October 29, 2019. He died in hospital three days later.
San José Estancia
(Grande, Oaxaca)
Carmela Parral Santos Elected: July 2018
Killed: August 2019
The mayor was the first woman to be re-elected as municipal president. Carmela Parral was a representative of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).; ; The Oaxaca State Attorney General's Office reported that the body of the mayoress and her companion were found inside a van.
Mixtla de Altamirano
(Veracruz)
Maricela Vallejo Orea Elected: July 2018
Killed: April 2019
The mayoress, along with her husband Efrén Zopiyactle and driver Sabino García, were assassinated by armed men in the central mountainous area of Veracruz. The previous mayoress of Mixtla, María Angélica Méndez, was accused of the murder and sentenced to 60 years in prison for the killing of her successor. In the 2018 election, Méndez's husband stood for mayor but lost to Vallejo.
Nahuatzen
(Michoacán)
David Eduardo Otlica Avilés Elected: July 2018
Killed: April 2019
The mayor was kidnapped and killed. Months later, Christian 'A'., his wife, was arrested for her possible involvement in the kidnapping and murder of her husband. It is said that her stepfather, Gerardo 'A', helped her commit the crime.
Tlaxiaco
(Oaxaca)
Alejandro Aparicio Santiago Elected: July 2018
Killed: January 2019
The mayor was shot dead hours after he took office on 1 January 2019.
Juárez
(Coahuila)
Olga Kobel Lara Elected: June 2017
Killed: December 2018
The mayor disappeared and her body was found six days later. The arrest of those involved occurred after messages from Kobel Lara with her alleged murderers were traced. They decided to confess to the crime and reveal the location of the site where they buried the body. Apparently, the killing occurred over a contractual dispute with the municipality.


Mayors killed during the Presidency
of Enrique Pena Nieto

(December 2012 to December 2018)

Municipality
(State)
Mayor or Mayor-elect Year and method of killing
Nahuatzen
(Michoacán)
Wilfrido Flores Villa 2013
Firearms
Santana Maya
(Michoacán)
Ygnacio López Mendoza 2013
Suffocation
San Juan Mixtepec
(Oaxaca)
Feliciano Martínez Bautista 2013
Firearms
San Miguel Tilquiapam
(Oaxaca)
Celestino Félix Vázquez Luis 2013
Firearms
San Andrés Cabecera Nueva
(Oaxaca)
Everardo Hugo Hernández Guzmán; (Mayor-elect) 2013
Firearms
San Pedro Totoloapan
(Oaxaca)
Epigmenio Rafael Aragón Luis; (Mayor-elect) 2013
Firearms
San Salvador Verde
(Puebla)
José René Garrido Rocha 2013
Firearms
Aquila
(Veracruz)
Gerónimo Manuel García Rosas 2013
Firearms
Pueblo Viejo
(Veracruz)
José Luís Cervantes Cruz; (Alternate mayor) 2014
Firearms
Atzalan
(Veracruz)
Rafael Landa Fernández; (Alternate mayor) 2014
Firearms
Pánuco
(Veracruz)
Teódulo Gea Domínguez; (Alternate mayor) 2014
Firearms
Ayutla
(Jalisco)
Manuel Gómez Torres 2014
Firearms
Tanhuato
(Michoacán)
Gustavo Garibay García 2014
Firearms
Jerécuaro
(Guanajuato)
Rogelio Sánchez Galán; (Mayor-elect) 2015
Firearms
San Miguel El Grande
(Oaxaca)
Mario Sánchez Cuevas 2015
Body blows
Temixco
(Morelos)
Gisela Raquel Mota Ocampo 2016
Firearms
Jilotzingo
(Estado de México)
Juan Antonio Mayen Saucedo 2016
Firearms
Chamula
(Chiapas)
Domingo López González 2016
Firearms
Pungarabato
(Guerrero)
Ambrosio Soto Duarte 2016
Firearms
Huehuetlán El Grande
(Puebla)
José Santa María Zavala 2016
Firearms
Ocotlán de Morelos
(Oaxaca)
José Villanueva Rodríguez 2017
Firearms
Tepexco
(Puebla)
Antolín de Vital Martínez 2017
Firearms
San Bartolomé Loxicha
(Oaxaca)
Alejandro Hernández Santos 2017
Firearms
Pueblo Nuevo
(Guanajuato)
José Durán González 2017
Firearms
Paracho
(Michoacán)
Stalin Sánchez González 2017
Firearms
Huitzilan de Serdán
(Puebla)
Manuel Hernández Pasión 2017
Firearms
Ixtlahuacán
(Colima)
Crispín Gutiérrez Moreno 2017
Firearms
Hidalgotitlán
(Veracruz)
Santana Cruz Bahena; (Mayor-elect) 2017
Firearms
Ixhuatlán de Madero
(Veracruz)
Víctor Manuel Espinoza Tolentino 2017
Firearms
San Pedro el Alto
(Oaxaca)
José Santos Hernández 2017
Firearms
Bochil
(Chiapas)
Sergio Antonio Zenteno Albores 2017
Firearms
Petatlán
(Guerrero)
Arturo Gómez Pérez 2017
Firearms
Tlanepantla
(Puebla)
José Efraín García García 2018
Firearms
Jilotlán de Dolores
(Jalisco)
Juan Carlos Andrade 2018
Firearms
Pacula
(Hidálgo)
Alejandro González Ramos 2018
Firearms
Coyuca de Catalán
(Guerrero)
Abel Montúfar Mendoza 2018
Firearms
Teretan
(Michoacán)
Alejandro Chávez Zavala 2018
Firearms
Buenavista
(Michoacán)
Javier Ureña González 2018
Firearms
Tecatitlán
(Jalisco)
Víctor José Guadalupe Díaz Contreras 2018
Firearms
Buenavista
(Michoacán)
Eliseo Delgado Sánchez; (Mayor-elect) 2018
Firearms
Naupan
(Puebla)
Genaro Negrete Urbano 2018
Unknown
Nopaluca
(Puebla)
Félix Aguilar Caballero; (Mayor-elect) 2018
Firearms


Mayors killed during the Presidency of
Felipe Calderón Hinojosa

(December 2006 to December 2012)

Municipality (State) Mayor or Mayor-elect; Year and method of killing
Ixtapan de la Sal
(Estado de México)
Salvador Christopher Vergara Cruz 2008
Firearms
Topía
(Durango)
Manuel Angulo Torres 2008
Suffocation
Ayutla
(Guerrero)
Homero Lázaro Ríos 2008
Firearms
Villa Madero; (Michoacán) Juan Marcelo Ibarra Villa 2008
Firearms
Namiquipa
(Chihuahua)
Héctor Ariel Meixueiro Muñoz 2009
Firearms
Otáez
(Durango)
Claudio Reyes Núñez 2009
Suffocation
Villa Ocampo
(Durango)
Luis Carlos Ramírez López 2009
Firearms
Zapotitlán Tablas
(Guerrero)
Alfonso Rivera de la Cruz; (Alternate mayor) 2009
Firearms
Vista Hermosa
(Michoacán)
Octavio Manuel Carillo Castellanos 2009
Firearms
Guadalupe y Calco
(Chihuahua)
Ramón Mendívil Sotelo 2010
Firearms
Guadalupe Distrito Bravos
(Chihuahua)
Jesús Manuel Lara Rodríguez 2010
Firearms
El Mezquital
(Durango)
Manuel Estrada Escalante 2010
Firearms
San Lorenzo Albarradas
(Oaxaca)
Vidal Olivera Cruz 2010
Firearm
Tepehuanes
(Durango)
Alfonso Peña Peña 2010
Suffocation
San Bernardo
(Durango)
Jaime Lozoya Ávila 2010
Heart attack due to massive body blows
Zapotitlán Tablas
(Guerrero)
José Santiago Agustín 2010
Firearms
Tancítaro
(Michoacán)
Gustavo Sánchez Cervantes 2010
Stoned to death
Santiago
Nuevo León
Edelmiro Cantú Leal 2010
Firearms
Doctor González
(Nuevo León)
Prisciliano Rodríguez Salazar 2010
Firearms (20 shots)
San José del Progreso
(Oaxaca)
Oscar Venancio Martínez 2010
Firearms
Santo Domingo de Morelos
(Oaxaca)
Nicolás García Ambrosio 2010
Firearms
Cruillas
(Tamaulipas)
José Felipe García García; (Mayor-elect) 2010
Kidnapped (Mayor or his body never found)
Mártires de Tacubaya
(Oaxaca)
Artemio Tomás Jiménez Baños; (Mayor-elect) 2010
Firearms
El Naranjo
(San Luís Potosí)
Alexánder López García 2010
Firearms
Hidalgo
(Tamaulipas)
Marco Antonio Leal García 2010
Firearms
Juan Rodríguez Clara
(Veracruz)
Gregorio Barradas Miravete; (Mayor-elect) 2010
Firearms after being kisnapped
Zaragoza
(Coahuila)
Saúl Vera Rivera 2011
Firearms
Zacualpan
(Estado de México)
José Eduviges Nava Altamirano 2011
Body blows
La Piedad
(Michoacán)
Ricardo Guzmán Romero 2011
Firearms
Temoac
(Morelos)
Abraham Ortíz Rosales 2011
Firearms
Santiago Amoltepec
(Oaxaca)
Luis Jiménez Mata 2011; Firearms
Tampico Alto
(Veracruz)
Saturnino Valdés Llanos 2011
Firearms
Florencia de Benito Juárez
(Zacatecas)
Fortino Cortés Sandoval; 2011
Firearms
Matehuala
(San Luís Potosí)
Edgar Morales Pérez; (Mayor-elect) 2012
Firearms
Técpan de Galeana
(Guerrero)
Nadin Torralba Mejía 2012
Firearms
San Miguel Tilquiápan
(Oaxaca)
Pedro Filemón Luís Hernández; (Alternate mayor) 2012
Firearms
Tlacojalpan
(Veracruz)
Marisol Mora Cuevas 2012
Suffocation


Mayors killed during the Presidency of
Vicente Fox Quezada

(December 2000 to December 2006

Municipality (State) Mayor or Mayor-elect Year and method of killing
Buenavista Tomatlán
(Michoacán)
Fernando Chávez López 2005
Firearms
Cuautitlán de García Barragán
(Jalisco)
Raúl Delgado Benavides; 2006
Firearms
Ixtepec
(Oaxaca)
Neguib Tadeo Manríquez Madariaga 2006
Firearms
Huimanguillo
(Tabasco)
Walter Herrera Ramírez 2006
Firearms (60 shots)

* The research was conducted from November 2022 to January 2023. Extensive use was made of national and local newspapers and other media in Mexico. Enquiries to: freedom.mayors@gmail.com


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