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Mexican president calls for replacing state prosecutor

July 16, 2021 GMT
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a ceremony marking the third anniversary of his presidential election at the National Palace in Mexico City, Thursday, July 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a ceremony marking the third anniversary of his presidential election at the National Palace in Mexico City, Thursday, July 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s president issued a rare public call Friday for the country’s most violent state to replace its attorney general.

The north-central state of Guanajuato saw more than 1,562 homicides in the first five months of 2021, more than any of Mexico’s other 31 states, despite only being the sixth largest in terms of population.

State prosecutor Carlos Zamarripa has been in office about 12 years, during which time the state has become far more violent.

“If he were the manager of a company, with this kind of performance they would have fired him,” President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Friday.

López Obrador suggested there was corruption or collusion with some of the drug cartels fighting bloody turf battles in Guanajuato.

“When officials do not act with honesty, with rectitude, when there is no division between criminals and the authorities, no progress can be made,” López Obrador said.

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Zamarripa’s office was contacted for a response, but had no immediate comment.

Businessmen and experts in Guanajuato have long questioned why, under Zamarripa’s leadership, the home-grown Santa Rosa de Lima cartel achieved so much power that they nearly controlled a federal oil refinery in the state, and brazenly stole fuel in and around the plant.

The problem got so bad that federal troops had to be called in to take over and protect the plant.

Guanajuato security analyst David Saucedo said “Carlos Zamarripa for many years protected El Marro,” the leader of the Santa Rosa de Lima gang who was arrested in 2020. But Saucedo said Zamarripa appears to have switched sides, apparently believing the Santa Rosa gang would quickly fall apart as the more powerful Jalisco New Generation cartel moved into the state.

Instead, the Sinloa cartel decided to send killers, guns and money to prop up Santa Rosa and other local gangs, to prevent their rival, Jalisco, from taking over. That proxy war has drenched the state on blood.

“Definitely, Zamarripa is part of the problem,” Saucedo said.

The state attorney general is appointed by the governor, and López Obrador has no direct input or control over the office. But federal cooperation is vitally important for state law enforcement efforts in Mexico.