Three people, including a minor, were being held on Sunday in the slaying the mayor of a gang-troubled Mexican city south of the country’s capital just hours into her term.
Four gunmen burst into the house of Mayor Gisela Mota, 33, was killed in her home on Saturday in the city of Temixco, which is in disputed drug territory about 60 miles south of Mexico City in the state of Morelos.
Following Mota’s killing, two suspects were killed in a clash with police and three others arrested.
Officials said those taken into custody were a 32-year-old woman, an 18-year-old man and a minor. They gave few other details, though state Attorney General Javier Perez Duron said the suspects had been tied to other crimes.
The announcement of the held suspects came as hundreds of Temixco residents and friends and family gathered in the city on Sunday for Mota’s funeral.
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Mayor Gisela Mota, 33, was murdered by four gunmen in her home in the Mexico city of Temixco, Morelos, on Saturday
Two of Mota’s alleged attackers, who have not been named but are pictured above, were captured by police. Another person, a 32-year-old woman, was later taken into custody. Two other alleged gunmen were killed by police
Residents and relatives carry the coffin of newly-installed Temixco mayor Mota along a street during her funeral on Sunday
Hundreds of Temixco residents and family members took to the streets to honor Mota’s life on Sunday, just a day after she was shot dead
Women cry and hold tissues to their faces as relatives and Temixco residents mourn the loss of Mota on Sunday
Several mayors were killed last year in Mexico, where armed gangs financed by the drugs trade control many local communities.
Morelos Gov Graco Ramirez ordered flags on state buildings flown at half-staff and called for three days of mourning following the killing of Mota.
He blamed organized crime for killing Mota, a former federal congresswoman who had been sworn in as mayor the day before she was gunned down in her home Saturday morning.
Ramirez ordered security measures for all of the state’s mayors, though he gave no details on what that involved.
Ramon Castro Castro, Roman Catholic bishop of Cuernavaca, celebrated Mass at Mota’s home Sunday and later spoke critically of a state where some areas are in control of organized crime.
‘One theory could be that it was a warning to the other mayors,’ Castro said to reporters. ‘If you don’t cooperate with organized crime, look at what will happen to you. It’s to scare them.’
Relatives and friends attend a mass next to the coffin of killed mayro Mota. Mota was part of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party
Temixco residents and Mota’s friends and family hold hands as they carry her coffin home during her funeral
Temixco residents and Mota’s friends and family line the streets of the city to mourn Mota’s death on Sunday
Several people carried flowers as men carried Mota’s coffin through Temixco on Sunday during her funeral
Temixco, with about 100,000 people, is a suburb of Cuernavaca, a city famed among tourists for its colonial center, gardens and jacaranda-decked streets. ‘The city of eternal spring’ was long a favorite weekend getaway for people from nearby Mexico City.
But drug and extortion gangs have plagued the area in recent years, driving away some tourists and residents. The expressway – and drug routes – between Mexico City and the country’s murder capital of Acapulco cuts through Cuernavaca and Temixco.
Temixco is in disputed drug territory that more than one cartel has activity in, but its state of Morelos shares a border with drug cartel-plagued Guerrero state.
Neither the governor nor prosecutors indicated which criminal organization might be involved in the mayor’s slaying.
Drugs, kidnappings and extortion in the area were once under the control of the Beltran Leyva cartel, but that group’s collapse a few years ago unleashed fierce competition among its progeny and rivals in Morelos and neighboring Guerrero and Mexico states.
In December 2014, a state lawmaker who was a candidate for mayor of Temixco from the same party as Mota, was kidnapped there. Authorities rescued him the following day and blamed the Guerreros Unidos cartel, which has been clashing with a group known as Los Rojos in Guerrero and Morelos.
Mota was killed just a day after being sworn in as mayor of Temixco in the Mexican state of Morelos, which is a disputed drug-cartel territory
Morelos Gov Graco Ramirez blamed organized crime in the killing of Mota, which occurred at about 7am on Saturday
Temixco also saw one of Mexico’s emblematic killings of the past decade: The 24-year-old son of poet Javier Sicilia and six other people were found slain in March 2011, prompting the writer to start a nationwide movement against violence. Prosecutors said the seven apparently had gotten into an argument with men who turned out to be local members of the Pacifico Sur drug cartel.
Efforts to clean out corrupt local police who have protected gangs led Morelos to put officers under a unified state command in 2014. Temixco joined that system, though the state’s main city, Cuernavaca, has resisted.
One organization representing mayors in the country, the Association of Local Authorities of Mexico, issued a statement saying nearly 100 mayors have been killed across Mexico over the past decade, ‘principally at the hands of organized crime.’
Mota’s leftist Democratic Revolution Party released a statement describing her as ‘a strong and brave woman who on taking office as mayor, declared that her fight against crime would be frontal and direct’.
Mota, who had been a federal congresswoman, was sworn into office on New Year’s Day. She was killed the following day.
Residents of Mota’s neighborhood react and look on after hearing news of the newly elected mayor’s murder
Mota’s neighbors embrace after hearing the news of Mota’s death as they walk past the crime scene where the shooting occurred
Police officers (right) and a forensic technician (left) stand outside Mota’s home as they investigate the murder
Mota is not the first mayor and government workers to be killed allegedly by organized crime.
In March, the body of mayoral candidate AidéNava González was found on the outskirts of Oxtotitlan, the town she was hoping to represent.
Her head was decapitated and ‘narcomanta’ was written on a sheet covering her body, which was a drug gang message, according to the New York Daily News.
Her husband – a former mayor – had been murdered and her son abducted by criminal gangs, according to The Telegraph. Her son, who was abducted in 2014, was never found.
Jerecuaro’s mayor-elect was killed in the state of Guanajuato in June of last year.
Morelos Gov Graco Ramirez vowed there ‘would be no impunity’ in her killing and promised that state officials would not cede to the challenge presented by organized crime.
He called Mota a ‘young and beloved companion’ and said he would not be intimidated by her death.
Federal and state forces are deployed in Cuernavaca and municipalities near the Guerrero state border in what is called ‘Operation Delta’.
Forensic investigators inspect a car outside the home where Mota was killed, just hours after she was elected mayor
A soldier stands guard near at a crime scene where Mota was attacked at her home by the four gunmen on Saturday