Ex-Mexican mayor arrested on suspicion of helping kidnappers

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 03, 2013 3:50 PM
Ex-Mexican mayor arrested on suspicion of helping kidnappers

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A former mayor in Mexico has been arrested on suspicion of helping a criminal gang kill two men when he ran the western town of Villa Corona last year, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

In February 2012, two men who had escaped from kidnappers in Villa Corona went to the police for help but were instead handed over to the gang by the mayor and then killed, the attorney general's office of Jalisco state said in a statement.

Investigations showed that the mayor, Jose de Jesus Ortiz, and his son Leonardo made sure the gang took the two men, whose bodies were found in May 2012 in a mass grave not far from the popular lakeside resort of Chapala, prosecutors said.

Both the mayor, 48, and his son, 24, are now in custody. Including the surrounding municipality of the same name, Villa Corona has a population of around 17,000.

Jalisco, which is home to Mexico's second-biggest city, Guadalajara, has seen a steady increase in violence since former president Felipe Calderon launched a military offensive against drug cartels shortly after taking office in late 2006.

President Enrique Pena Nieto, who replaced Calderon in December, has pledged to restore order, though gang-related violence remains widespread. Last month, the minister of tourism for Jalisco was shot dead in an ambush.

On Sunday, a shoot-out in two bars in Guadalajara claimed seven lives and left more than a dozen people injured.

(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by Philip Barbara)