Ciudad Acuna, Mexico - The Mexican government dispatched troops, federal police and criminal investigators to a violence-torn state on the United States border on Thursday after the assassination of the governor's nephew sent tremors through one of Coahuila's most powerful political families.
Jose Eduardo Moreira, a 25-year-old state employee, was found shot to death on Wednesday night on a rural road outside the town of Ciudad Acuna, across the border from Del Rio, Texas. The victim's father, Humberto, was the state's previous governor and also served as head of the party that won this year's presidential elections, though he was forced out last year amid accusations of mismanaging Coahuila's finances.
Coahuila has been hit by waves of drug cartel-related violence, some of which has targeted state and local officials. The state has been dominated by the ultra-violent, paramilitary Zetas cartel, but the powerful Sinaloa criminal organisation is trying to wrest control of key smuggling routes in some areas.
State and federal officials declined to say why Jose Eduardo Moreira may have been killed, but the federal government appeared to be treating the case with a high degree of urgency.
President Felipe Calderon said he had offered his condolences to Coahuila Governor Ruben Moreira, and “promised him all necessary help from the federal government to launch an efficient, dependable investigation that will allow us to bring the authors of this cowardly act to justice”.
Attorney-general Marisela Morales said she was sending a team of federal investigators to help local officials, and Coahuila state prosecutor Homero Ramos said he had been informed that soldiers, Marines and federal police were being deployed to his state in reaction to the crime.
Humberto Moreira was pushed out of the leadership of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, in the run-up to July's presidential election. PRI candidate Enrique Pena Nieto, who won the vote and takes office in December, said he expressed his condolences to Moreira's family for the young man's killing, which the president-elect said “must not go unpunished”.
Organised crime in Mexico has targeted several politicians or their relatives for assassination.
In 2010, gunmen believed linked to one of the cartels in the neighbouring state of Tamaulipas ambushed a convoy carrying the PRI gubernatorial candidate, Rodolfo Torre, killing him and four of his companions. Torre's brother then ran for and won the governorship.
Several months later, a former governor of the Pacific state of Colima was shot dead and another state official was wounded by a group of armed men.
A PRI state legislator-elect in the northern state of Sonora was shot to death last month outside his home by a man on a motorcycle the day before he was scheduled to take office. Prosecutors said they believed he was killed by his legally designated substitute, but PRI officials voiced doubts about the theory.
Jaime Serrano Cedillo, a 45-year-old state deputy from the PRI, was fatally stabbed last month in Nezahualcoyotl, a district that borders Mexico City, in what authorities called a domestic dispute with his wife. - Sapa-AP