The governor of the southern Mexican state of Morelos has said that a drug gang killed a newly inaugurated mayor to convince other officials to reject state police control of local cops.
Governor Graco Ramirez blamed the murder of Temixco Mayor Gisela Mota on the Rojos gang, which has been fighting a bloody turf battle with the Guerreros Unidos gang in the neighboring state of Guerrero.
Speaking on Sunday, Ramirez said that the killing was a warning to local officials not to accept unified state control of police forces, a new system aimed at fighting corruption in local police forces.
Mota had accepted state police control, though she had called for traffic cops to remain under local authority.
"This is a message and clear threat to the mayors who have recently taken office not to accept the coordination plan and police framework that we have been promoting," said Ramirez.
Decrease in violent crime
Ramirez said the state police plan has led to a decrease in the wave of kidnappings, extortions and drug gang killings that have swept the state in recent years.
Many critics have questioned whether the unified command will be cleaner or more efficient than the local forces, and the state government has struggled to convince mayors to give up control of officers, who are a source of influence, protection and often income from bribes.
A local newspaper, "La Union de Morelos," accused Ramirez in an editorial Monday of using the murder "to get around the growing opposition to a model of security whose effectiveness is belied by figures and facts."
The biggest holdout has been the new mayor of the state capital, Cuernavaca, former soccer star Cuauhtemoc Blanco.
Despite Blanco's refusal, Ramirez announced he was imposing state command over Cuernavaca's police, and he suggested dark forces were influencing the former athlete and first-time public official.
"Behind Cuauhtemoc Blanco there are people who want to take advantage of his lack of experience, to allow crime gangs to enter Cuernavaca," Ramirez wrote on Twitter.
bik/cmk (AP, AFP)