Photo: Dalia Santana Pineda
The mayor of the western Mexican town of Huetamo was arrested on charges of homicide and extortion, the Michoacan state Attorney General’s Office said Thursday.
Dalia Santana Pineda was being questioned by AG’s office investigators in Morelia, the state capital, according to an official statement.
Elected mayor in 2011, Santana belongs to Mexico’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.
Authorities apparently suspect her of ties to Los Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar), the drug cartel that has been terrorizing Michoacan for the last few years.
She is the state’s fourth mayor to be arrested this year on suspicion of colluding with the Templarios.
Two of the other three are PRI members, while the third, Mayor Arquimides Oseguera Solorio of the port city of Lazaro Cardenas, is affiliated with the leftist PRD.
Oseguera was detained after being seen in a video with Templarios boss Servando Gomez Martinez.
Santana is a political ally of Huetamo native Jesus Reyna Garcia, who served as interim governor of Michoacan for much of 2013 and is likewise behind bars for alleged links to the Templarios.
Rodrigo Vallejo, son of erstwhile Michoacan Gov. Fausto Vallejo, was jailed last week after he refused to answer questions from prosecutors about his own videotaped encounter with the Templarios’ Gomez Martinez.
The ailing Fausto Vallejo resigned as governor in June amid a storm of criticism after the federal government deployed soldiers and police in Michoacan in January to end the wave of drug-related violence in the state.
The federal government intervened in Michoacan to fill a security vacuum in the state, where community self-defense groups had formed to defend themselves against the Templarios cartel.
Since January, federal authorities have dealt the cartel a series of blows, capturing or killing several of its top leaders.