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Mexico: General and wife killed

November 4, 2014

Gunmen have killed a general in a Mexican state along the US border. General Ricardo Cesar Nino Villarreal and his wife were shot dead as they drove Saturday in Vallecillo, in the northern state of Nuevo Leon.

Symbolbild Mexiko Drogenkrieg Grenze USA Reynosa
Image: Julio Cesar Aguilar/AFP/GettyImages

Over the weekend, assailants killed a Mexican security chief and his wife in the border state of Tamaulipas, authorities announced late Monday. People driving on the road linking the cities of Monterrey and Nuevo Laredo had found the two-door car and bodies on Sunday, but officials delayed the announcement until the victims' identities were confirmed. Officials found more than 100 high-caliber bullet casings at the scene of the shooting.

"The government of Tamaulipas condemns and deeply laments the death of General Ricardo Cesar Nino Villarreal and his wife," the state's security coordination group announced late Monday.

Nuevo Leon's chief prosecutor said the general usually traveled in an armored vehicle with a security detail - unlike the unarmed victims in their civilian car. Nino Villareal survived an attack on October 9, when unidentified gunmen shot at his armored vehicle in Linares, also in Nuevo Leon state. Before his appointment in Tamaulipas, Nino Villareal led the police force in the town of Cadereyta.

Mexico Protest
Mexicans have grown increasingly dissatisfied with the polices of President Pena Nieto, here burned in effigy (leftImage: Reuters/Jorge Dan Lopez

In May, Mexico's military took control of security in Tamaulipas after scores of people died in gunfights between cartels as well as between gangs and security forces. From August, Nino Villarreal served as one of four officers deployed by the government to stem a surge of violence in Tamaulipas. The general took charge of a northern zone that includes Nuevo Laredo, a city bordering Texas and the scene of turf wars between cartels fighting over control of the lucrative drug trafficking route.

Drug war strategy

In October, officials found the bodies of a Mexican man and three American siblings, all in their 20s and all shot in the head, two weeks after their abductions in the town of Control. Prosecutors questioned members of a police unit. The officers had served as part of a tactical force known as the Hercules Group, formed by the mayor of the city of Matamoros, Leticia Salazar.

In Reynosa in October, assailants kidnapped a doctor who used Twitter to report violence in Tamaulipas. Authorities launched a murder investigation after someone posted an apparent photo of the body of Maria del Rosario Fuentes Rubio on her account along with the words "today my life has reached its end" before Twitter took it down.

Dozens of students went missing in September in the town of Iguala, with the federal government having since issued a warrant for the arrest for the mayor and his wife. Multiple graves have been found in the region since September, but none have contained the students' remains so far.

Eighty thousand people have died and 22,000 have disappeared since Mexico deployed troops to crack down on drug cartels in 2006. About a quarter of those deaths have come since the inauguration of President Enrique Pena Nieto in 2012, with many blaming the "war on drug trafficking" launched by his predecessor, Felipe Calderon, days after taking office in 2006 for the balance of the bloodshed.

mkg/mz (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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