Mayor-elect pulled off bus and assassinated near resort city of Acapulco

The mayor-elect of a small municipality near the crime-plagued Mexican resort city of Acapulco was assassinated early Monday, local prosecutors said — the latest in a series of attacks targeting politicians.

Salvador Villalba Flores — who was to take office in October in Copala, a town of about 4,000 residents about 80 miles southeast of Acapulco — was shot dead while traveling on a highway, prosecutors in Guerrero state said in a statement.

Prosecutors said that they had launched an investigation into the murder, but declined to provide further details.  

Local newspaper El Sur de Guerrero reported that Villalba was a retired Navy captain who was usually protected by National Guard escorts, but was traveling alone to Mexico City when he was killed.  

“The mayor-elect was taken off the bus he was traveling on when it stopped near San Pedro las Playas” and shot, the outlet reported.  

Local media also reported Villalba had decided to run for mayor after his friend, a candidate, was murdered in June 2023.

In Mexico’s general election on June 2, leftist Claudia Sheinbaum was elected by an overwhelming majority as the first woman president of the country.

As well as choosing a new president, Mexicans voted for members of Congress, several state governors and myriad local officials — a total of more than 20,000 positions.

Since Mexico’s campaign season began last September, more than two dozen political candidates have been killed, according to Data Civica, a non-governmental organization.

Earlier this month, a local councilwoman was gunned down as she was leaving her home Guerrero. Her murder came a few days after the mayor of a town in western Mexico and her bodyguard were killed outside of a gym — just hours after Sheinbaum won the presidency.

Acapulco was once a playground for the rich and famous, but it has lost its luster in the last decade as foreign tourists have been spooked by bloodshed that has made it one of the world’s most violent cities.  

Last month, five people were killed in an armed attack in Acapulco, just three days after 10 other bodies were found in the resort city.

Guerrero, one of the states most affected by drug cartel violence given its location along Mexico’s Pacific coast, recorded 1,890 murders in 2023.

More than 450,000 people have been murdered and thousands have gone missing since the Mexican government deployed the army to combat drug trafficking in 2006.

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