Mexican state takes over police after mayor's killing

People (above) grieving on Sunday at the funeral of the newly installed mayor, Ms Mota in Temixco. Morelos state has been plagued by drug cartel violence, kidnappings and extortion, and Ms Mota had vowed to clean up crime when she took office.
People (above) grieving on Sunday at the funeral of the newly installed mayor, Ms Mota in Temixco. Morelos state has been plagued by drug cartel violence, kidnappings and extortion, and Ms Mota had vowed to clean up crime when she took office.PHOTO: REUTERS
People grieving on Sunday at the funeral of the newly installed mayor, Ms Mota (above), in Temixco. Morelos state has been plagued by drug cartel violence, kidnappings and extortion, and Ms Mota had vowed to clean up crime when she took office.
People grieving on Sunday at the funeral of the newly installed mayor, Ms Mota (above), in Temixco. Morelos state has been plagued by drug cartel violence, kidnappings and extortion, and Ms Mota had vowed to clean up crime when she took office. PHOTO: REUTERS

CUERNAVACA (Mexico) • A state in central Mexico has taken over police command in several towns after a mayor was assassinated, a crime described as a gang threat to other mayors.

Governor Graco Ramirez on Sunday ordered the State Security Commission to take charge of police in 15 municipalities of Morelos state, including the capital, Cuernavaca, and Temixco, where the slain mayor served.

Ms Gisela Mota, 33, a left-of-centre former member of Congress, was gunned down on Saturday, barely 24 hours after taking her oath of office in Temixco, which is about 90km south of Mexico City.

Police say gunmen burst into her home and killed her. Two suspected gunmen were later killed and three were detained, including a minor.

Morelos state has been plagued by drug cartel violence as well as kidnappings and extortion.

Ms Mota had vowed to clean up crime when she took office. The governor said she had agreed to back a "single command" coordination scheme that groups state and local police.

Her murder "is a message and a clear threat for the mayors who recently took office to not accept the police coordination scheme that we have supported and that is being built at a national level", Mr Ramirez told a news conference.

Morelos has around 30 municipalities and about half have not ratified the single command.

The governor, who attended Ms Mota's funeral, declared three days of mourning in the state and ordered flags to be flown at half-staff.

Ms Mota's Democratic Revolution Party, of which Mr Ramirez is a member, hailed her as a "strong and brave woman, who, when she took office as mayor, declared that her battle against organised crime would be frontal and direct".

Mr Ramirez has clashed with the new mayor of Cuernavaca, former Mexico football star Cuauhtemoc Blanco, over the single command.

Mr Blanco has decided to suspend the scheme, saying crime has risen despite its existence and proposing to beef up the municipal force instead.

Several mayors have been murdered in Mexico in recent years amid a bloody drug war that has cost tens of thousands of lives in the past decade. Temixco was the scene of the infamous murder of the son of poet Javier Sicilia in 2011.

The body of 24-year-old Juan Francisco Sicilia was found in March that year inside a car along with those of four other young people, a crime that turned his father into a leading voice against violence in Mexico.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2016, with the headline 'Mexican state takes over police after mayor's killing'. Print Edition | Subscribe