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Mexican mayor arrested for allegedly ordering a massacre

The mayor, who allegedly ordered ten people killed at the weekend, had long-rumored ties to the Knights Templar cartel in the drug-war ravaged state of Michoacán.
Foto di Luis Enrique Granados/EPA

A Mexican mayor has been arrested in the beleaguered state of Michoacán for allegedly ordering the murder of 10 people at the weekend.

Juan Carlos Arreygue Nuñez was arrested on Monday alongside three officers from his municipal police force in the town of Alvaro Obregón, 12 miles east of the state capital Morelia.

Álvaro Obregón lies about 20 miles south of the place where 10 people were found dead inside a burnt out pick up truck driven off the road just outside the town of Cuitzeo.


Michoacán governor, Silvano Aureoles, told reporters on Tuesday that the mayor not only ordered the officers to carry out the murders but was also present when it happened.

"The investigation points directly to the mayor," Aureoles said.

The governor added that police had initially thought the massacre was triggered by rival gangs fighting over access to nearby underground oil pipelines. The theft of oil is a major source of income for some Mexican criminal groups, with the volumes rising every year despite multiple government promises to crack down.

The investigation only reportedly focused on the mayor and his long-alleged ties to the Caballeros Templarios, or Knights Templar, cartel, after it was discovered that the victims were arrested before they were killed.

Witnesses said they were picked up from a small convenience store on Friday night and driven away in three police cars. Governor Aureoles said the murders were possibly linked to a dispute over control of the local drugs market.

The arrest of Mayor Arreygue for the alleged mass murder is a particularly dramatic example of the way political power has long been tightly associated with organized crime in Michoacán.

The state — long home to different cartels — was the site of the launch of former President Felipe Calderón's massive military offensive against drug cartels nearly a decade ago. The crackdown triggered a backlash that saw the violence spiral along with the number of cases of the alleged penetration of elected authorities by the cartels.

Related: Mexican Mayor Accused of Ordering Citizen Journalist's Killing in Veracruz

Follow Alan Hernández on Twitter: @alanpasten