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Mexico mayor's slaying seen as gang threat

Mexico mayor's slaying seen as gang threat
File photo of Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, President of Mexico, dated September 24, 2008. (UPI Photo/Laura Cavanaugh) | License Photo

MEXICO CITY, Oct. 8 (UPI) -- The drug gang slaying of a prominent mayor has sent shudders of fear through Mexico's political elite, observers say.

While the vast majority of the more than 3,000 people killed this year in the wake of Mexican President Felipe Calderon's crackdown on traffickers have been either drug cartel members or police fighting them, the weekend slaying of Ixtapan de la Sal Mayor Salvador Vergara Cruz has caused panic among officials, The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

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Vergara, 34, was seen as very anti-drug and a fast-rising star in Mexico State political circles. His assassination by hooded men armed with semiautomatic rifles is being interpreted as a threat by drug gangs to the highest levels of government against efforts to oppose them, the newspaper said.

Some observers told the Times that Vergara's death may have been a message to his close ally, Enrique Peña Nieto, the high-profile governor of the state of Mexico and likely Institutional Revolutionary Party presidential candidate in 2012.

"We will soon know what Enrique Peña Nieto is made of," wrote commentator Francisco Garfias. "He has the opportunity to show that he's got what it takes to aspire to the Big One in 2012."

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