Photo: Jose Eduardo Moreira Rodriguez's funeral
Four Mexican municipal police have been detained for their alleged involvement in this week’s murder of the son of a prominent politician, officials said.
Jose Eduardo Moreira Rodriguez - son of Humberto Moreira, former governor of the northern state of Coahuila and erstwhile chairman of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, - was shot and killed Wednesday on a rural road in Coahuila near the U.S.-Mexico border.
Evidence shows that some municipal police participated in the crime and they are under investigation, Coahuila Attorney General Homero Ramos Gloria said Friday in a radio interview.
The four police from the border town of Ciudad Acuña, where Moreira Rodriguez was killed, are being held under “arraigo,” a legal instrument that allows suspects to be held for up to 80 days without formal charges.
Prior to being detained, they had been questioned by authorities into the wee hours of Friday, Ramos said.
Three other police were questioned in Saltillo, the state capital, but have not been arrested.
Ciudad Acuña Mayor Alberto Aguirre Villarreal told Efe that he ordered all police on shift at the time of Moreira Rodriguez’s death be placed at the disposition of prosecutors.
The decision to question a total of 48 police was made after witnesses, colleagues and friends who were with Moreira Rodriguez on the day he was killed told investigators that police may have been involved.
The 25-year-old victim was regional coordinator of social development programs for the violence-wracked state of Coahuila, whose governor, Ruben Moreira, is Moreira Rodriguez’s uncle.
The Coahuila AG said two lines of investigation are being pursued, one of which was opened Thursday after a conversation with Moreira following his son’s funeral.
He also said municipal officials in Ciudad Acuña are implicated in the murder but refused to provide further information that might interfere with the investigation.
Ramos also referred to the possibility that Moreira Rodriguez’s murder was an act of revenge for the killing of the nephew of the Los Zetas drug cartel’s No. 2, Miguel Angel Treviño Morales, alias “Z40,” in a shootout with state police Wednesday in the border city of Piedras Negras.
The clash erupted when members of an elite state police unit were conducting a search for 131 inmates who fled the Piedras Negras prison in mid-September. Five people were killed, one identified by his wife as Treviño Morales’s nephew
“That’s the version that’s been circulating in the state’s north region, but as an attorney general I don’t have the evidence to say that’s what happened. However, it could be a hypothesis in the sense that (the two deaths occurred) on the same day,” Ramos said.
What is clear, he added, is that the murder was premeditated. “It’s clear that they knew who he was. It was done in cold blood.”
State and federal authorities are working together and sharing information, the state AG said, adding that the investigation is “quite far along” and that results are expected soon.
President Felipe Calderon said in a statement that he deeply regretted the “cowardly murder” of Moreira Rodriguez, while President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto, a member of the PRI, condemned the killing and said it “should not go unpunished.”
Humberto Moreira, who served as Coahuila’s governor from 2005 to 2011, became PRI chairman after leaving office.
He resigned on Dec. 2 amid a scandal over allegedly improper contracting during his time as governor of that state.
Moreira’s resignation was prompted by statements made a day earlier by Peña Nieto, who said the controversy over the surge in Coahuila’s public debt had hurt the PRI.