Palomas Mayor Killed

Palomas – Unidentified assailants kidnapped and killed the top official of the border town of Palomas, across from New Mexico.

Town Mayor Estanislao Garcia Santelis had long complained about the drug traffickers and migrant smugglers active around Palomas.

Arturo Sandoval, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office in northern Chihuahua state, said Garcia Santelis' bullet-riddled body was found yesterday near a burned-out pickup truck and bore signs of torture.

Palomas made headlines in 2008 when its police chief sought asylum in the U.S. after his deputies abandoned him and he received death threats. The Mexican army subsequently took over law enforcement in the tiny town.

Garcia Santelis led protests against high electricity rates, and some residents accused him of mismanaging civic funds. He previously told local media of receiving threats from criminals, but didn't single out a specific gang.

There have been numerous killings in and around Palomas in recent months. They were part of cartel turf wars and drug-related violence that have contributed to more than 13,500 deaths since late 2006.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.