Teacher-turned-mayor found dead
Latest Mexico official to die took job when elected mayor, council quit

By DUDLEY ALTHAUS
HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Sept. 27, 2010, 10:55PM



AFP/Getty Images

Tancitaro Mayor Gustavo Sanchez Cervantes is shown in December in Michoacan State, Mexico. Sanchez and a colleague, the town council coordinator, Enrique Equihua, were found murdered on a rural road on Monday, apparently stoned to death, a spokesman for the state prosecutor's office said. Sanchez is the 11th municipal leader killed so far this year in Mexico.

MEXICO CITY — Police recovered the mutilated body of the acting mayor of a small town in western Mexico on Monday — the fifth Mexican mayor murdered in less than six weeks and the 11th so far this year.

The body of Gustavo Sanchez, along with that of his personal secretary, were found lying face down on a rural gravel lane in western Michoacan state, an area besieged by drug violence. Both apparently were killed by large rocks used to smash their heads. Photos of the scene show small boulders lying next to the bodies.

An elementary school teacher, Sanchez had been named interim mayor of Tancitaro in December after the town's elected mayor and City Council resigned after receiving death threats from gangsters. The head of the council earlier had been kidnapped and killed.

"We don't know if they had received any threats," said Jonathan Arredondo, a spokesman for the Michoacan attorney general's office. "What we do know is they had been missing since Saturday."

Sanchez said in a February that he had accepted the appointment "knowing that to govern means commitment, negotiation, determination and, above all, the strong will to serve."

But the job of governing the country's cities and towns is becoming a lethal one, as gangsters and their accomplices have turned on vulnerable local officials.
Other recent attacks

Last Thursday, Prisciliano Rodriguez, 53, mayor of Doctor Gonzalez, a small town between the city of Monterrey and the South Texas border, was killed along with an aide on a rural road near his family ranch.

The following day, the mayor-elect of another town in Chihuahua state, bordering West Texas, was shot and seriously wounded in an assassination attempt.

Gangsters kidnapped and murdered the mayor of the Monterrey suburb of Santiago in mid-August. Investigators accuse seven Santiago police officers of abetting in that crime. An accused member of the assassination team told investigators Monday that the officers had asked the local boss of the Zetas criminal gang to "set the mayor straight."

The mayor of the town of Hidalgo, in Tamaulipas state near Monterrey, was killed near his ranch on Aug. 29. And On Sept. 8, gunmen attacked City Hall and killed the mayor of El Naranjo in San Luis Potosi state, south of Monterrey. State investigators said El Naranjo police officers may have been involved in that killing.

In the case of Tancitaro's Sanchez, Michoacan's attorney general told a radio interviewer that the manner of death didn't seem to fit the pattern of gangland executions, which usually involve guns or beheadings. Media reports in Michoacan mentioned that Sanchez recently had begun efforts to fire municipal police for suspected corruption. State officials had no information about the firings, Arredondo said.

Chron