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Top tourism official in Mexican state of Jalisco is shot to death

March 11, 2013|By Daniel Hernandez
  • Mexican police inspect the crime scene after Jalisco's secretary of tourism, Jose de Jesus Gallegos, was shot to death in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Saturday. The perpetrators have not been identified.
Mexican police inspect the crime scene after Jalisco's secretary… (STR / EPA )

MEXICO CITY -- Just days into his job, the top tourism official in the western state of Jalisco was chased and gunned down in a weekend attack that police promptly blamed on the official's previous business-related activities and not on his government post.

Jose de Jesus Gallegos was shot to death in his vehicle on Saturday afternoon after a short car chase near a major intersection in Zapopan, a suburb of the state capital of Guadalajara.

According to early reports, Gallegos' driver attempted to outrun the gunmen shooting from a luxury vehicle before another car cut off the official's path, causing a collision. The assailants then reportedly ordered Gallegos from his vehicle, shot him twice with a 9-millimeter firearm, and fled.

Gallegos, identified as a hotel and construction entrepreneur, had only assumed his position as chief promoter of the state's tourism market on March 1. His killing is the first major attack on a ranking government official in Jalisco in the administration of new Gov. Aristoteles Sandoval, which also started just 11 days ago.

Gallegos was buried Sunday amid calls for justice from the business and political elite in Mexico's second-largest city. Leaders also called for more security in Guadalajara's metropolitan region, which has seen increased patrols by military and federal forces after high-profile incidents of cartel-related violence.

On Saturday, hours after the attack, the state's interior secretary said in a news conference that Gallegos' killing was not related to his post in the government but to "economic and business activities he had before being designated secretary of tourism." After those remarks, though, state authorities said Sunday that all lines of investigation remain open.

Regardless, the killing raised the specter of organized crime.

Opposition political leaders suggested that Sandoval did not properly vet his cabinet picks and that the administration should release new officials' financial holdings, "for the good of the state." A hotel chain linked to the dead tourism official reportedly released a statement disavowing any connection to Gallegos.

In Guadalajara, authorities promised to solve the official's killing, but on Monday, the identities of four possible suspects who were detained after the incident remained unknown.

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