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Soto: criminals carried out their threat. Soto: criminals carried out their death threat.

Gang keeps its word, kills Guerrero mayor

Ambrosio Soto had received a death threat by text three weeks ago

A crime gang in the Tierra Caliente region of Guerrero has carried out its threat against the mayor of Pungarabato. Ambrosio Soto was shot and killed in an ambush by gunmen late Saturday.

And while authorities have announced a full investigation, procedures at the crime scene suggest it might not be as full as necessary.

It was three weeks ago that the mayor was warned of the danger he was in via a text message on his phone: “Your worship, I would like to inform you that the order to kill you has been given . . . .” It was one of several threats Soto received since he began campaigning for election last year.

After he won the election, a criminal gang demanded he pay 1 million pesos and give it the right to name municipal officials. He told the newspaper Milenio earlier this month that organized crime controlled everything in Tierra Caliente, including federal and state police and the military.

Soto also said he intended to begin carrying a firearm for protection. But that wasn’t enough on Saturday night, nor was the presence of a bodyguard of four Federal Police officers.

Two of them were wounded in the 15-minute-long hail of gunfire — some 600 shots were fired with high-caliber weapons at the vehicle carrying the mayor and another in which two of the bodyguards were traveling.

The mayor’s new driver was also killed. His predecessor, the mayor’s cousin, was shot to death last week.

Soto was returning to Ciudad Altamirano, location of Pungarabato’s municipal headquarters, from Huetamo in Michoacán when he was attacked by men in two trucks who were waiting for him on the highway. It was a risky route to take, said Guerrero Attorney General Xavier Olea after the shooting, at an hour when it was dangerous to be traveling, not only for security reasons but for “any eventuality.”

Authorities have vowed a full investigation but it did not get off to a good start. Governor Héctor Astudillo has acknowledged that for unknown reasons Michoacán investigators never arrived at the murder scene and the bodies of the victims were removed without normal investigative procedures being carried out.

The Catholic Church in Guerrero spoke out about the attack yesterday, criticizing the three levels of government for “excessive tolerance” towards organized crime, claiming it had sparked incidents such as Soto’s assassination.

Governments have not provided protection to citizens as they should, charged Bishop Salvador Rangel, nor has there been “a strong hand” against criminal activity, such as a determined intervention against organized crime in the region. The bishop said it appeared at times that the will to stop crime was lacking.

Federal officials said either the Familia Michoacana or the Caballeros Templarios were behind the mayor’s murder.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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