Crime and Violence

Former Mayor Killed in Michoacan

María Santos Gorrostieta, former Mayor of Tiquicheo. Photo: Vanguardia.

11/27/12 – The corpse of Maria Santos Gorrostieta, former mayor of Tiquicheo, Michoacán, was recently found in a ditch near Morelia. Her family had reported her missing just three days earlier. Santos Gorrostieta, 36, became a frequent target for cartel violence during her 2008-2011 term. She survived at least two prior attacks to the November 12th one that lead to her death. On that date, according to law enforcement officials, Santos Gorrostieta was kidnapped, beaten, and died as a result of a fatal blow to the head.

Santos Gorrostieta received the first threat to her life in 2008, according to El Universal. She was first assaulted in October 2009, when armed men ambushed her vehicle, killing her husband Jose Sanchez Chavez, age 50. She was ambushed once again only three months later, sustaining serious injuries in an incident that she has repeatedly brought to the public’s attention, in hopes of raising awareness about the dangers of drug violence.

The source of Santos Gorrostieta’s status as a target for violence was reportedly unknown to both government officials and the former mayor herself. After the second 2009 attack, she released a statement from the hospital declaring, “I have a clear conscience, I have never had issues of any kind, be they money, family or crime related, and I have never had any fights with any neighbors or residents of my town, or any other town.”

The mayor was originally aligned with Mexico’s PRI party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI), but switched to the PDR (Partido de la Revolucion Democratica, PRD) at the end of her mayoral term, in a play to win a council position in the 2011 elections. According to Secretary of Government Jesus Reyna Garcia, however, “[t]here are no grounds to suppose that the murder of Maria Santos Gorrostieta was a result of her…political activity, or…facts concerning her tenure in the previous municipal administration.”

According to Michoacan Governor Fausto Vallejo, the investigation into Santos Gorrostieta’s murder has indicated “the possible involvement of organized crime,” but authorities have yet to clearly identify any specific cartel or individual responsible for the mayor’s death. Political officials have become a popular target for drug cartels in recent years, with the BBC News reporting that some two dozen mayors have been killed since outgoing President Felipe Calderón launched his war against drug trafficking six years ago.


Martinez, Dalia. “Alcadesa callo un atentado.” El Universal. Nov. 21, 2012.

“No descansaron hasta terminar con ella.” El Universal. Nov. 18, 2012.

“Mexico Ex-Mayor Killed After Surviving Two Attacks.” BBC News Latin America. November 17, 2012. 

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