Local residents gather on January 2, 2016 outside the house of Gisela Mota, newly elected Mayor of Temixco, Morelos State, Mexico, murdered on Saturday at home by gunmen. (AFP)
Mexico City, Mexico:
The Mexican drug cartel known as Los Rojos is suspected of being behind the murder of a mayor who was gunned down a day after taking office, authorities said on Monday.
The killing of Gisela Mota, 33, has shocked the nation, putting a spotlight on the violence plaguing the central state of Morelos and the threats mayors have faced across Mexico.
The left-of-center former member of Congress, was gunned down in her house on Saturday, barely 24 hours after taking her oath of office in Temixco, about 90 kilometers (55 miles) south of Mexico City.
Asked whether Los Rojos were behind the murder, Morelos State Security Commission chief Alberto Capella told Radio Formula that it was "one of the strongest hypotheses."
Mota's murder could be linked to the killing of a person whose dismembered body was found on a highway on December 31 and three other cases, Capella said.
Two suspects were killed and three others, including a minor, were detained just minutes after Mota's killing.
"There are more people whom we need to detain and we have taken big steps toward clearing up this case," Capella said.
Los Rojos (The Reds) and their archrivals, the Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors), have sought to "generate terror through kidnapping or control of certain areas" in Morelos, the security chief said.
The Guerreros Unidos became notorious last year when they were named as prime suspects in the presumed killing of 43 students who disappeared in the neighboring state of Guerrero.
Governor Graco Ramirez suggested on Sunday that Mota's murder was linked to his government's decision to put state and municipal police under a "unified command" that has been opposed by some towns.
Ramirez said her murder was "a message and a clear threat for the mayors who recently took office to not accept the police coordination scheme that we have supported and that is being built at a national level."
Nearly 100 mayors and more than 1,000 municipal workers have been attacked in Mexico in the past decade, mainly by organized crime groups, according to the Association of Local Authorities of Mexico.