Mexican Mayor Arrested in Drug Cartel Stronghold

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The mayor of a city seen as a drug cartel stronghold was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of pressuring town councilors to pay off drug lords, the state prosecutor’s office said.

Uriel Chavez is accused of pressuring town councilors to donate 1,500 dollars of their salary to support the Knights Templar carte in Apatzingan in the western state of Michoacan, the state prosecutor’s statement said.

Three of the alleged victims filed a complaint March 6, saying the mayor took them to a rural area where heavily armed men who said they belonged to the cartel told them the payoffs were need to buy weapons.

So-called self-defense groups that took up arms against the cartel in February 2011 have claimed Chavez is is related to the cartel’s slain leader, Nazario Moreno, known as “El Chayo”.

Chavez however denies any link to the cartel.

The state prosecutor did not say how often the councilors made the alleged payments.

The city has a population of 124,000 people.

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