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Mexico’s drug cartels and gangs seem to be more involved in Sunday’s elections than in previous instances

Friends and coffin carry the coffin (Via Jake Simmons/Shutterstock)

Mexico’s drug cartels and gangs appear to be exerting a broader influence in Sunday’s elections, which will determine the presidency, nine governorships, and approximately 19,000 mayorships and other local positions.

These powerful cartels have historically targeted and assassinated local candidates who challenge their authority. Gangs in Mexico typically seek control over local police and a share of municipal funds, showing less interest in national politics.

However, leading up to Sunday’s voting, gangs have escalated their tactics, including firing at entire campaign gatherings, destroying ballots, obstructing polling stations, and displaying banners to sway voters.

Security analyst David Saucedo predicts that some drug gangs may coerce voters to support candidates aligned with their interests.

“There’s a reasonable expectation that cartels will mobilize their supporters during Sunday’s elections,” Saucedo stated. “They have loyal followers whom they’ve won over with food, money, medicine, and public works projects, and they’ll use them to back their chosen candidates.”

Mexican Guard officers outside the church (Via Jake Simmons/Shutterstock)

Recently, electoral authorities reported an incident where assailants burned down a house storing ballots in the violence-plagued town of Chicomuselo, Chiapas. Although the perpetrators weren’t identified, the town is under the control of rival drug cartels Jalisco and Sinaloa.

Earlier in May, gunmen with cartel ties killed 11 people in Chicomuselo in a single day. Days later, in La Concordia, Chiapas, gunmen attacked a crowd, resulting in five deaths, including a mayoral candidate.

Assassinations of local candidates have continued, with disturbing video footage showing a mayoral candidate in Guerrero shot at close range in the head last week. So far this year, 31 candidates, mostly running for mayor, have been killed.

Mass assaults on campaign rallies, once rare in Mexico, have become more frequent and have caused more casualties among supporters than candidates. These incidents are intended to intimidate voters.

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