Thursday, September 25, 2014

México: Abduction, Charred Remnants of Ruling PRI Deputy, Aide Reflect No One is Safe

According to AFP, the daylight abduction and death by fire of a ruling PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) federal lawmaker and his aide on Monday (September 22), highlight the vulnerability of anyone in the México of today.
By Wednesday (September 24) forensic analysis had confirmed that the Jalisco prosecutor's office said forensic analysis had confirmed that Chamber of Deputies lawmaker Gabriel Gómez Michel, 49, a former pediatrician, and his aide, Heriberto Nuñez Ramos were intercepted in the lawmaker's SUV en-route to Guadalajara Airport.
COMMENT: Based upon information collected thus far, the Deputy and Nuñez Ramos were intercepted by multiple vehicles, suggesting that this was an orchestrated "hit" on a sitting lawmaker and his aide. 
The 49-year-old former pediatrician's body was found early Tuesday (September 23) in the neighboring state of Zacatecas inside the charred remains of his SUV, alongside the burned corpse of his assistant.
The Jalisco prosecutor's office said forensic analysis confirmed the identities of Gómez Michel and Nuñez Ramos.
The chief prosecutor of Zacatecas, Arturo Nahle, said no expended rounds were found on the bodies or in the SUV; the corpses were too badly burned to confirm how the men died, although one can presume that they were burned alive for shock value.
Security cameras captured the abduction, depicting cars flanking the lawmaker's SUV as a man in a red shirt points at the car's window on the road outside Guadalajara.
Gómez Michel's wife had called authorities to report his disappearance.
His home state Jalisco is a bastion of the Jalisco New Generation drug cartel. Nahle said the Gulf Cartel also operates in Zacatecas.
Officials said the lawmaker had received no reported threats previously.
Local politicians have often been the targets of attacks or threats during México's drug war, with at least 30 mayors killed since 2006, but attacks against federal lawmakers are rare.
PRI lawmaker Moises Villanueva was killed in 2011. EL UNIVERSAL newspaper documented attacks against five other federal legislators since 2006, and a foiled plot against two others last year.
In March 2013, Jalisco's tourism secretary was shot dead in his SUV in Zamora, a popular tourist spot on the Pacific coast.
Some 80,000 people have been killed since troops were deployed to crack down on drug cartels in 2006.
Gómez Michel, who was mayor of El Grullo in 2010-2012, belongs to President Enrique Pena Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).
Pena Nieto said Tuesday that murders had declined by 29% in the first half of 2014 compared to the same period in 2012, the year he took office.
"It is difficult to express the sorrow and indignation that the murder of our colleague Gabriel Gómez Michel has left," said Manlio Beltrones, coordinator of the PRI's congressional deputies.
Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong indicated that federal prosecutors would take over the case.
Javier Oliva, a politics and security expert at the National Autonomous University of México, said the fact that a congressman was abducted and killed "demonstrates the vulnerable situation that some parts of México face" despite the decline in homicides.
This report will be updated as new information is received.

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