The tourism secretary for the Mexican state of Culiacan has been murdered by gunmen. Antonio Ibarra Salgado and his driver died in an ambush while travelling in the secretary’s official vehicle on the streets of the state capital.
Sinaloa is home to some of Mexico’s most powerful cartels, including the gang run by Arturo Beltran Leyva, who was killed last week during a shootout with marines in the central Mexican city of Cuernavaca.
Rolando Bon Lopez, assistant prosecutor for Sinaloa state, said that police are trying to determine whether his killing was drug-related. Ibarra is survived by a wife and seven children.
The weapons used and the nature of the attack suggest drug-cartel gunmen as the likely perpetrators.
Sinaloa, a mountainous, largely agricultural state, was the birthplace of Mexico’s leading kingpins.
Just hours before Ibarra was killed, the mother and three other relatives of a Mexican special forces soldier, Angulo Cordova, were killed at their home in the southeastern state of Tabasco.
Angulo Cordova took part in the Dec. 16 military operation in Cuernavaca that resulted in the deaths of the drug kingpin Arturo Beltran Leyva and six of his armed retainers.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon denounced the “cowardly and despicable” attack on Angulo Cordova’s family.
“These reprehensible deeds are a sample of the lack of scruples with which organized crime operates, attacking innocent lives, and they can only reinforce our desire to banish this singular cancer from the life of society,” he said Tuesday.
Drug-related disputes also suspected in the deaths of nine people Monday in Ciudad Juarez, the northern border city that has become Mexico’s murder capital.
Mexico has been plagued in recent years by drug-related violence, with powerful cartels battling each other and the security forces in a war for control of smuggling and distribution routes.
The drug war is blamed for more than 16,000 deaths in the past three years, with the 2009 death toll at roughly 6,500.