MEXICO CITY (AFP) — The former governor of western Jalisco state — one of the most violent in Mexico — was murdered on Friday, the regional government said.
Aristoteles Sandoval was “the victim of an attack” in the popular tourist destination Puerto Vallarta, the Jalisco government said on Twitter.
“I’m very sorry about the murder of the former Jalisco governor … It’s a matter that will be investigated to discover the cause, the motive and to punish the perpetrators,” said Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Sandoval was attacked in the bathroom of a restaurant in Puerto Vallarta, where he was on holiday with his family, according to press reports quoting the Jalisco public prosecutor’s office.
The 46-year-old was governor from 2013-18 in a state that is overrun with violence committed by organized crime groups.
Mexico has been wracked by drug cartel violence for many years.
Since December 2006 when the Mexican government launched an anti-drug operation, there have been more than 300,000 violent deaths, the majority linked to crime gangs, according to official figures.
The murder of Aristoteles Sandoval came one day after authorities arrested Hugo Amed Shultz, the former mayor of Chinipas in northern Mexico’s Chihuahua state, for “complicity” in the 2017 murder of journalist Miroslava Breach.
Breach, who covered the country’s drug war, was one of 11 journalists murdered in 2017. More than 100 have been killed since 2000, but 90% of the murders remain unresolved.
Breach’s murder was the rare media killing in Mexico to lead to a conviction.
Juan Carlos Moreno, also known as “El Larry,” was convicted of being the “intellectual author” of the murder and sentenced in August to 50 years imprisonment.
In a statement Thursday with few details about the case, the prosecutor’s office noted just that a Chihuahua court “has succeeded in establishing the probable responsibility” of Amed Shultz for having “sought and provided information to an organized crime group which ordered and carried out the murder.”
During Moreno’s trial, testimony revealed that politicians recorded telephone conversations with Breach, a correspondent for La Jornada and Norte de Juarez, then turned them over to Shultz, a member of the conservative National Action Party (PAN).
The former Chinipas mayor, “with the support of former PAN leaders in Chihuahua state, pressured Miroslava Breach to reveal her sources regarding a report which indicated members of various criminal organizations… were running for elected office,” La Jornada said Thursday after Shultz’s arrest.
Journalism watchdog Reporters Without Borders regularly rates Mexico as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists.
In 2018, the United Nations and AFP launched an award to honor journalists who risk their lives to cover human rights abuses in Mexico, in tribute to Breach and another slain journalist, Javier Valdez.
Breach, a 54-year-old veteran crime and politics reporter, was shot eight times in the head on March 23, 2017, as she left her home to take her son to school.
One of her last stories was on a war between two rival capos in the Juarez drug cartel.
The latest journalist killed in Mexico was Israel Vazquez of the daily El Salmantino.
Unknown gunmen attacked him on November 9 while he was covering the discovery of human remains in the violent state of Guanajuato.
© Agence France-Presse