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Mayoral Candidate from Cajeme, Sonora, Killed While Campaigning

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“MX” for Borderland Beat

Francisco Abel Murrieta Gutiérrez

A new homicide marred the Mexican elections of June 6. Abel Murrieta, the mayoral candidate of Cajeme, Sonora, for the Citizen Movement Party (MC), was shot dead while he was engaging in a campaign.

Murrieta was also the lawyer of the LeBarón family, who were victims of a brutal attack in which nine of its members, all women and children who held dual US-Mexican citizenship, were killed in Sonora in November 2019. The attack was attributed to the criminal group La Linea.

The spokesman for the LeBaróns, Iván García Reyes, lamented the incident and demanded that authorities not rule out the possible connection in both cases (his candidacy and the LeBaron case) in their investigations.

“The family is hurt and dismayed. We knew that Abel Murrieta was running for the electoral campaign … he was an excellent professional who went from being a lawyer to being a great friend. He was the one who knew the most about this [LeBaron] case”, he said.

In a post on social media, Murrieta’s party lamented the murder and reported that Lizeth López, the woman who was injured during the attack, is stable.

“Citizens live in fear … Murrieta paid with his life for having said in the campaign that he had the courage to confront drug cartels and that he was going to put order in Sonora,” the post read.

The party’s national coordinator, Clemente Castañeda Hoeflich, said on Twitter that Murrieta was “an honorable man with an impeccable career.”

Adrian LeBarón wrote in his Twitter account, “They have killed my defender! Today they decided to kill the person who defended us legally. What do we call this? The rule of law?”

Before being a candidate for the MC, Murrieta was Attorney General of Justice in Sonora from 2004 to 2012, during the six-year terms of former Governors Eduardo Bours and Guillermo Padrés. He later served as local deputy for the Cajeme district from 2012 to 2015, and as federal deputy from 2015 to 2018.

Murrieta was taken to the hospital in serious condition. He did not survive.


In recent months, Sonora has been on the national spotlight due to rising cartel-related violence. As reported by Borderland Beat, much of the violence in Sonora is driven by conflicts between several factions of the Sinaloa Cartel and local drug groups like La Plaza and/or the Caborca Cartel.

Cajeme, in southern Sonora, is among just 15 municipalities in Mexico that make up more than a quarter of murders in the country, Security Secretary Rosa Icela Rodríguez said this week.

While some of those areas have seen a decrease in murders in the first three months of this year compared to 2020, Cajeme and others have seen an increase.

“We had an average increase of 19% in the municipalities of León, Cajeme, Guadalajara, Acapulco and Chihuahua,” Rodríguez said.

Of those, Cajeme has seen the greatest increase in killings in 2021 — up more than 40% from 92 in the first three months of 2020 to 133 during the same period this year.

An important trade region for the U.S., Cajeme Municipality is also home to Sonora’s second-largest city, Ciudad Obregon, which was ranked by a security-focused nonprofit in Mexico this week as the fourth most violent city in the world, with a murder rate of 101 per 100,000 people.


Video was recorded by a driver who was passing by. Murrieta was shot in broad daylight. His body lays on the sidewalk, pamphlets and flags on his side.

Sources: El Pais; MilenioAnimal Politico; Fronteras; Reforma


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