“MX for Borderland Beat; TY to”stevectpa”
|Carlos Ignacio Beltrán Bencomo|
Chihuahua state authorities confirmed earlier this week that the mayor of Temósachic municipality, Carlos Ignacio Beltrán Bencomo (aged 57), was kidnapped outside his municipal offices and found dead days later.
According to investigators, the mayor was kidnapped on Monday by several “armed men” and forced into a vehicle. He was taken along with another man but this person was released shortly thereafter. The mayor was not seen until Wednesday when state authorities confirmed that a body matching his physical description had been found in the town’s outskirts.
His body was wrapped in a blanket and his head was covered with a plastic bag. Investigators said that the mayor died from a coup de grâce gunshot wound, a common sign that the murder was likely cartel-related. The mayor’s family filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutor’s Office, who began a search in the surrounding region of this municipality, located northwest of the state of Chihuahua.
When the news was officially confirmed, the head of Mexico’s Ministry of Interior, Olga Sánchez Cordero, lamented the murder and offered the collaboration of her agency in the investigation. Investigators were not able to confirm a possible motive for his murder by press time.
Borderland Beat analysis
This area of Chihuahua is a lucrative smuggling route for narcotics heading to the U.S. and a highly disputed corridor by rival drug cartels. The two criminal groups with influence in the area are Gente Nueva, a Sinaloa Cartel-affiliated group, and La Linea, once the armed wing of the old Juarez Cartel.
Since the start of Mexico’s drug war, cartels have targeted and killed dozens politicians, mostly local officials (including mayors). Though the exact motives are often never officially determined, security experts agree that criminal groups sometimes seek to control local officials and/or influence local elections to expand their agendas. Mayors are usually responsible for appointing local police chiefs and deciding who wins government contracts and concessions at a municipal level.
In addition, the increase in narcomenudeo, or street-level drug sales, has compelled some drug cartels to seek government tolerance or collusion whenever possible in order to operate in a certain turf. Municipal police forces are more likely to be aware of local extortions and drug sale spots, known in Mexico as puntos. Some local police officers are involved in these activities themselves.
That is not to say that every public official killed in Mexico is corrupt. Political figures who pose an honest threat to a drug cartel and who refuse to collaborate with them are sometimes killed. Cartel members have also killed politicians in rival turfs to increase law enforcement crackdown. This is done to calentar la plaza (“heat up the turf”) of the locally-based cartel.