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Mexican drug traffickers blamed in killing of second mayor

Marco Antonio Leal Garcia, mayor of Hidalgo, is shot dead while with his young daughter, who is injured. He was mayor in a state that's a battleground between vicious rivals the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas.

August 30, 2010|By Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Mexico City — For the second time in two weeks, the mayor of a Mexican city has been slain by purported drug traffickers, authorities say.

Marco Antonio Leal Garcia, the mayor of Hidalgo in the violent border state of Tamaulipas, was shot to death Sunday. His young daughter was wounded in the attack.

Tamaulipas, which borders Texas, is the same state where a drug gang is suspected in the massacre last week of 72 migrants and where the battle between rival cartels has left a bloody trail of death, cowed authorities and terrified citizens.

President Felipe Calderón condemned the killing of Leal Garcia, who was ambushed as he drove with his daughter on the outskirts of Hidalgo.

"This cowardly crime and the reprehensible violent acts that occurred recently in this state strengthen the commitment of the Mexican government to continue fighting the criminal gangs that seek to intimidate the families of Tamaulipas," Calderon said in a statement released by his office.

The motive for the mayor's slaying was not immediately clear. Traffickers often kill local authorities who refuse to cooperate or whom they perceive as being sympathetic to rival gangs.

Tamaulipas and the neighboring state of Nuevo León have recently become a battleground between the powerful Gulf Cartel and its onetime ally, the especially vicious Zetas paramilitary faction.

In Nuevo León, Edelmiro Cavazos, the mayor of the popular, wealthy tourist town of Santiago, was kidnapped Aug. 15. His bound, blindfolded body was recovered three days later. Six police officers arrested in connection with his slaying said they were working for the Zetas and believed the mayor's actions aimed at cleaning up the police department ultimately favored the Gulf traffickers.

Grenade explosions in the Tamaulipas city of Reynosa on Saturday reportedly killed one person and injured at least 20. Rodolfo Torre Cantu, a front-running candidate expected to become the next governor of the state, was assassinated in June just days before the election.

wilkinson@latimes.com

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