Aspiring mayor from Quintana Roo killed in apparent political feud

“MX” for Borderland Beat

Last week a hitman killed Ignacio “Nacho” Sanchez Cordero, Secretary of Social Development in Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, and aspiring mayor for the Ecologist Green Party of Mexico (PVEM).

Nacho was in a coffee shop with three other people when a gunman entered and shot him six times in the back before fleeing the scene. The first versions indicated that there were several wounded, but it was later confirmed that it was only a direct attack on the candidate.

During his campaign, Nacho was a proponent of ecotourism in Puerto Morelos, and wanted to shift away from the traditional tourism approach of only investing in hotels and bars.

Earlier this week, Quintana Roo’s Attorney General’s Office released a portrait of the suspect involved in the murder. Through their social media accounts, authorities have asked civilians to help identify and locate the man, the main suspect in the investigation. They believe he may have used the help of at least two accomplices.

Authorities found a banner days later where suspected cartel members accused Manuel González Tamanaja, another aspiring mayor from Puerto Morelos, of ordering Nacho’s murder.

“Attention Tamanja, dog, I’m sure you’re happy. You already had Nacho killed but now it’s your turn you piece of shit. You are not saved from us, dog, you are on the list. Don’t play stupid, we know everything … You paid MXN$1,000 to kill Nacho, but you are not saved from us”, the text read.

Tamanja, however, denied such claims and said that Nacho was his friend.

Federal authorities say that Nacho did receive death threats before he was killed, and that he had accused former Puerto Morelos urban planner Tirso Esquivel Avila of wanting him dead. Nacho claimed that Esquivel Avila paid sicarios to kill him because he was a strong contender for mayor.

The facial composite of the suspected murder (left) was done earlier this week by federal invesigators. Nacho (right) had warned authorities that sicarios were after him and had asked for protection. He never received any.

Background 

The 2021 elections in Mexico will take place in an environment marked by violence. Drug cartel collusion in elections is a regional phenomenon. Security experts agree that criminal groups sometimes seek to control local officials and/or influence local elections to expand their agendas. Mayors are usually responsible for appointing local police chiefs and deciding who wins government contracts and concessions at a municipal level.

This year is not the first in which Mexican drug cartels ostensibly intervene in local elections. In 2018, at least 49 candidates were murdered during election season. 

Sources: Infobae; Diario de Yucatan; Excelsior; Digital News QR; GaluComunicacion; EnDirecto QR