A mayor in the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas was kidnapped by cartel gunman while traveling. Members of his family and staff were also abducted. After massive protests and government pressure, the gunmen released the mayor, who was being held in the state of Coahuila.
The kidnapping took place on Friday night as Mayor Mario Cedillo, his wife, one of his sons, and some of his staff members were traveling through the border city of Nuevo Laredo, according to a statement from the Coahuila state government. Nuevo Laredo is located directly across the border from Laredo, Texas.
The gunmen abducted nine people in total. Cedillo and his staff were returning from work meetings in the state of Oaxaca when a group of gunmen in two SUVs began chasing them, Breitbart News reported. Government officials lost track of the group not long after that.
The location of the kidnapping is controlled by the Cartel Del Noreste faction of the notorious Los Zetas cartel. Los Zetas are one of Mexico’s most violent criminal organizations and are equipped with military equipment and weapons. The syndicate was founded by ex-members of Mexico’s federal police and military special forces in the 1990’s.
In March, a turf war involving the cartel paralyzed Nuevo Laredo as rival drug lords battled in the streets. The U.S. consulate in the city was forced to temporarily close after it was struck by gunfire.
Coahuila Governor Miguel Angel Riquelme confirmed the kidnapping in a statement Sunday. The governor added that his administration was coordinating with the Mexican military, as well as the governments of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon to locate the missing elected official and his staff.
Riquelme has been outspoken against the Los Zetas since the organization carried out several attacks in rural Coahuila, Breitbart News reported. A Zetas field commander was recently arrested in Coahuila after he engaged in a gunfight with police officers in a neighboring state.
The negotiations were ultimately successful, as Riquelme and Tamaulipas Governor Americo Villarreal confirmed the mayor’s release on Saturday afternoon. Authorities are still working to determine exactly why the mayor was targeted, or why the cartel opted to release them.
The kidnapping took place just days after another abduction carried out by the Cartel Del Noreste faction of Los Zetas. 11 artisans from the state of Puebla who traveled to Nuevo Laredo for an art expo were likewise released after heavy government pressure.
The group is still holding a group of day laborers from Tamaulipas that they kidnapped last month, however. According to Breitbart Texas, relatives of those laborers have held protests outside of the home of Tamaulipas governor Americo Villarreal.