Drug Gang Storms Mexican City Hall, Guns Down 20

Mayor and his father among the dead in ambush in San Miguel Totolapan, in Guerrero state
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 6, 2022 11:30 AM CDT
Drug Gang Storms Mexican City Hall, Guns Down 20
Stock photo of a city hall in Mexico.   (Getty Images/reeixit)

A drug gang shot to death 20 people, including a mayor and his father, in the mountains of southern Mexico, officials said Thursday. A video posted on social media showed men who identified themselves as the Tequileros gang claiming responsibility for the mass shooting in the state of Guerrero. The Guerrero state security council said gunmen burst into the town hall in the village of San Miguel Totolapan on Wednesday and opened fire on a meeting the mayor was holding with other officials, per the AP. Among the dead were Mayor Conrado Mendoza and his father, Juan Mendoza Acosta, a former mayor of the town. Most of the other victims were believed to be local officials.

The walls of the town hall, which were surrounded by children's fair rides at the time, were left riddled with bullets. Totolapan is a geographically large but sparsely populated mountainous township in a region known as Tierra Caliente, one of Mexico's most conflict-ridden areas. Ricardo Mejia, Mexico's assistant secretary of public safety, said the Tequileros are fighting the Familia Michoacana gang in the region and that the authenticity of the video was being verified. "This act occurred in the context of a dispute between criminal gangs," Mejia said. The killing of Mendoza brought to 18 the number of mayors slain during the administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and the number of state lawmakers to eight, per data from Etellekt Consultores.

Totolapan was controlled for years by drug gang boss Raybel Jacobo de Almonte, known by his nickname "El Tequilero," or "The Tequila Drinker." In 2016, Totolapan locals got so fed up with abductions by the Tequileros that they kidnapped the gang leader's mother to leverage the release of others. While attacks on public officials aren't uncommon in Mexico, these come at a time when Lopez Obrador's security strategy is being sharply debated. The president has placed tremendous responsibility in the armed forces rather than civilian police for reining in Mexico's persistently high levels of violence.

(Read more Mexico stories.)

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