“stevectpa” for Borderland Beat
|David Coutiño Lara (pictured) specialized in Mexican criminal law|
A young lawyer was killed yesterday afternoon in the Toks shopping center parking lot in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas. His name was David Coutiño Lara (aged 36). Eye-witnesses said that the lawyer had just left a restaurant and was walking towards his vehicle when armed men showed up and killed him at the scene. Coutiño was with his sister and another lady.
Investigators confirmed that Coutiño was shot at least five times from behind; the perpetrators of the attacked escaped in a vehicle and are at large. One of the officers stated that the now deceased had at least two shots in the head and the other shots were distributed in his back. Over 14 bullet casings were found at the scene. Eye-witnesses called the emergency number 911 when they saw the incident. Paramedics were the first to arrive at the scene and confirmed that Coutiño died instantly.
Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (FGR) confirmed that they were taking over the case, moving the investigation to federal jurisdiction. Coutiño was the son of Jorge Coutiño Abud, former delegate of La Condordia Transit Police and active employee of the municipality. His body was taken to the local morgue for the FGR. Federal investigators said that the nature of the attack bore the signs of organized crime and they were investigating if it was a “settling of scores” by cartel members.
Lawyers killed in Mexico
Targeted attacks against lawyers are not uncommon in Mexico’s ongoing drug war. Mexican lawyers who defend accused drug lords, often referred to as narcoabogados (narcolawyers), are important but often-overlooked players in the criminal underworld.
The range of involvement these attorneys have varies; they are sometimes hired to find soft spots in government indictments to help their clients get out of jail, but some drug cartels have also used lawyers to run activities even when kingpins are behind bars. These activities include buying and selling property, serving as a messenger intermediary, paying cartel associates and even bringing officials.
That’s not to say that every lawyer defending a drug cartel member is corrupt. Declining a take on a client can also have its risks.
Although lawyers represent a small portion of the death toll in Mexico’s drug war, attacks against them highlight the ability drug cartels have to strike back at the country’s judicial system.