At least 11 Mexican mayors and ex-mayors who have been killed or have disappeared during the last 15 months, reports the Los Angeles Times. Many more have received extortion demands. Others, such as Jose Reyes Ferriz, the mayor of beleaguered Ciudad Juarez, received public death threats. Mexico’s 2,400 mayors occupy a dicey spot on the front line of the war on drug traffickers. They are prime targets for bribe offers because they oversee local police. Most municipal governments have skimpy tax bases from which to equip and pay police well enough to combat graft.
Mayors complain that they are the ones who personally confront the toll of drug violence on the streets. Yet they lack any meaningful role in the federal government’s battle against organized crime. City police, by law, are restricted to petty crime and traffic offenses. “They’re in the hottest seat,” said George Grayson, a Mexico scholar at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va. “The mayors are really in the most precarious position.”