GISELA RAQUEL MOTA OCAMPO, the first woman elected mayor of Temixco, a city in the central Mexican state of Morelos, was expected to take on organized crime directly. She never got the chance. The 33-year-old assumed office on New Year’s Day. Less than 24 hours later she was dead, murdered in her own home by an alleged crew of paid assassins.

According to reports, sometime shortly after 7 a.m. on Saturday morning, intruders entered Mota’s home, tied her up, beat her, and shot her in the head. Authorities responding to a call reporting a possible homicide soon found themselves in a car chase with the suspected killers. A gunfight ensued that left two of the suspects dead, authorities said, while three others — including a minor, a 32-year-old woman, and an 18-year-old man — were captured alive.

In a statement, the state prosecutor’s office reported that loads of ammunition, a 9 mm pistol, an Uzi submachine gun, bulletproof vests, and balaclavas were recovered from the suspects’ vehicle. One of the detained suspects, a government source told the Mexican newspaper Reforma, said the team of assassins was paid roughly $29,000 to murder the mayor — though it was unclear whether that payment was paid to each of the perpetrators or to the group — and that her name was one of at least a half-dozen others on the team’s kill list.

In recent years, areas around Temixco, some 60 miles south of Mexico City, have struggled mightily with violence stemming from weak local institutions and deep-seated political corruption and intimidation linked to a nexus of criminal groups seeking control of the region’s lucrative, U.S.-bound drug-trafficking routes.

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