A Mexican news agency has posted photos on its Web site showing the mayors of Patzcuaro and Huetamo, two cities in the western state of Michoacan, meeting with Caballeros Templarios drug cartel boss Servando Gomez.
An anonymous sender provided two photos taken from a video to the Quadratin news agency, which posted the images on its Web site.
The photos show Gomez, known as “La Tuta,” sitting at a table with Patzcuaro Mayor Salma Karrum and Huetamo Mayor Dalia Santana, who are both members of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.
Santana was arrested last week for allegedly masterminding a murder and forcing city employees to pay a kickback of 20 percent of their monthly pay to her, money that she, in turn, handed over to the Caballeros Templarios, the dominant drug cartel in Michoacan.
The mayor is a close associate of former Michoacan Gov. Jesus Reyna Garcia, a Huetamo native who is now in prison for allegedly working with the cartel.
The meeting between the mayors and the cartel boss was revealed days after two videos were released, one showing Gomez distributing a dead businessman’s estate and another showing him meeting with the youngest son of former Michoacan Gov. Fausto Vallejo.
The second video led to the arrest of Rodrigo Vallejo, who was jailed when he refused to give investigators information about the video.
Apatzingan Mayor Uriel Chavez Mendoza, Aguililla Mayor Jesus Cruz Valencia and Lazaro Cardenas Mayor Arquimides Oseguera were all arrested this year after appearing in videos with Gomez.
The federal government deployed soldiers and police in Michoacan on Jan. 13 in an effort to end the wave of drug-related violence blamed on the Caballeros Templarios.
Federal security forces killed the cartel’s two top leaders, Nazario Moreno Gonzalez and Enrique Plancarte Solis, in February and March, respectively.
Moreno and other members of the Familia Michoacana gang formed the Caballeros Templarios organization after he was reported killed by the government in 2010.
The Caballeros Templarios cartel, which deals in both synthetic and natural drugs, commits murders, stages kidnappings and runs extortion rackets that target business owners and transport companies in Michoacan.
Residents in several towns and cities formed vigilante groups in February 2013 to fight the Caballeros Templarios.