|Raymundo Elmer Prior Reyes (left); his vehicle after the attack (right)|
There has been a wave of assassinations of people linked to the municipality of San Juan Evangelista in recent months. Last year, the police chief who proceeded Raymundo as killed. A few days later, the town’s ex-mayor was killed too. Investigators suspect Raymundo and others were killed for refusing to support the CJNG, who holds a stronghold in San Juan Evangelista.
Early life and career
In his latest role before presiding over San Juan Evangelista’s police force, Raymundo was a commander in Veracruz’s Institute of Auxiliary Police and Heritage Protection (IPAX). He held the role until December 2018.
The CJNG first arrived in Veracruz in 2011 and made their first public appearance by carrying out large public acts of violence to intimidate their turf rivals, Los Zetas. Over the years, the CJNG expanded under their leader Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes (“El Mencho”) and became one of the largest criminal groups in Mexico alongside the Sinaloa Cartel.
In December 2019, Veracruz’s Secretary of Public Safety (SSP) chief Hugo Gutiérrez Maldonado confirmed that the municipalities of Acayucan, Sayula de Alemán, Hueyapan de Ocampo, Oteapan and San Juan Evangelista, were controlled by the CJNG.
|José Roberto Sánchez Cortés (“El 80”), the CJNG leader in Veracruz|
The CJNG regional boss of San Juan Evangelista and of the other municipalities mentioned was Abraham Morales Trinidad (“Doble Cero”). He reported directly to José Roberto Sánchez Cortés (“El 80”), the leader of the CJNG in Veracruz. Under Doble Cero was CJNG lieutenant Félix Hernández (“El Garrobo”).
Authorities confirmed the arrests of CJNG members in December 2019 caused a major regrouping in the CJNG and motivated the rival Zetas cartel to push for an incursion in the region.
Raymundo was murdered for not supporting the CJNG’s activities in the area. It is rumored that he refused to allow the CJNG’s cattle theft operations and kidnappings in the area. His dispute with the CJNG dates back to August 2019, when police officers working under him detained 40 CJNG members who were looting ranches in the municipalities of Playa Vicente, Azueta, Isla, Rodríguez Clara (in Veracruz) and several others along the border with Oaxaca.
A few days after Rodríguez Pérez’s death, on 14 February, former San Juan Evanglista mayor Adalbero Moreno Lara (age 56) was killed by gunmen in a drive-by shooting. His assassins left a written message inside his vehicle. The ex-mayor had survived a previous attempt on his life in 2015, when gunmen tried to kidnap him. It would not have been hard to imagine that Raymundo was probably next on the CJNG’s list.