Former candidate for mayor of Cajeme, Abel Murrieta. Photo: Facebook

By KELIN DILLON

Abel Murrieta, the Citizen’s Movement candidate for mayor of the Cajeme municipality in the Mexican state of Sonora, was assassinated in an armed attack in Ciudad Obregón on Thursday, May 13.

The mayoral candidate was reportedly shot 10 times, including two bullets to the head, while distributing flyers for his campaign, and later died from his wounds in the San José hospital.

A woman working for his campaign was also reportedly injured during the attack.

Cajeme, with a population of just 135,000,  has one of Mexico’s most deadly murder rates, with 390 people killed in the municipality in 2019, making it the country’s 12th most homicidal jurisdiction.

Sonora’s Attorney General’s Office announced it had opened an investigation into Thursday’s events, and the Citizen’s Movement President Clemente Castañeda Hoeflich condemned the attack as perpetrated by members of organized crime, something Murrieta promised to reform if elected to office.

“Abel paid the price for having said over and over in his campaign that he had the bravery to confront narcos and that he would deal with them once he became mayor,” said Castañeda. “It’s clear that organized crime governs Sonora.”

Murrieta was well known, aside from previously acting as Sonora’s attorney general, as being the lawyer for the Mormon LeBarón family of northern Mexico, who experienced a tragic massacre of nine of the family’s members, allegedly by the cartel on the Sonora-Chihuahua border in November of 2019.

The candidate had a meeting set for the next day with Adrián LeBarón, who lost his wife and several children in the 2019 tragedy, to discuss more about the case, though it would never come to fruition.

“Who will defend us now?” said LeBarón when asked about the assassination.

Murrieta’s murder has contributed to Mexico’s most violent electoral cycle on record since 2000, with 79 assassinations of politicians so far since the electoral campaign cycle began in September 2020.

The current government of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has been famously indifferent to both the LeBarón family’s demand for justice and the Cajeme’s citizenry calls for an implementation of law and order in their city.

AMLO has, however, built a massive baseball field in Cajeme, although he has not allocated funds to reduce the high incidence of crime.

 

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