Organized crime murders former governor of Jalisco, Mexico 

The 46-year-old PRI politician was murdered in the bathroom of a Puerto Vallarta restaurant in the early hours of Friday morning.

PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico (Times Media Mexico) – Organized crime has again struck hard in Mexico. The Jalisco’s former governor, Aristóteles Sandoval, was killed early Friday morning in an attack on a restaurant in the tourist town of Puerto Vallarta.

The 46-year-old politician of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), who headed the State Government from 2012 to 2018, was shot several times in the back in the bathroom of a restaurant, according to the local District Attorney’s Office. The event, which occurred at 1:40 am1:40 am, once again puts the spotlight on prominent politicians who have dealt with the wave of violence resulting from crimes related to the drug cartels.

“The ex-governor gets up from the table, goes to the bathroom, and it is in the bathroom where an armed man directly attacks him,” summed up prosecutor Gerardo Solis in a message released by the Attorney General’s Office first thing Friday morning. Sandoval lived in Guadalajara, the state capital, and had traveled to Puerto Vallarta to spend a few days of rest. 

According to the authorities’, the ex-governor had been in that town since December 12th and had a security team, assigned by the State, of about 15 people. On Thursday night, around ten pm, Sandoval arrived at the bar District 5 on Francisco Medina Ascencio Avenue, the port’s main avenue. There he met with three more people whose identities have not been revealed: two men and a woman. Three hours later, he separated from the group and was attacked. The prosecutor has assured the local press that on this occasion, the former governor was only accompanied by two bodyguards – one of them was wounded – and a driver.

The former governor’s security detail entered the bathroom to rescue him and take him to a hospital. “When they are trying to get him out, they are met with a series of impacts,” said Prosecutor Solis. 

Authorities estimate that a group of between eight and ten sicarios attacked Sandoval’s security team when they were transferring him severely injured to the private hospital Joya, where they certified his death. 

The prosecutor has denounced in the media that the restaurant managers where the attack occurred ordered the cleaning of the crime scene and that, until now, they have refused to hand over the recordings from the security cameras of the establishment. So far, the authorities have not detained anyone for the attack.

This is the second attack in the last six months by organized crime against a high-profile figure in Mexican politics. In June, an armed group ambushed Mexico City’s Secretary of Public Security, Omar Garcia Harfuch. The official survived the attack and attributed it to the CJNG, one of the most feared groups in Mexico, which García Harfuch has fought from other public positions. 

Andrés Manuel López Obrador has regretted the politician’s death and explained that the investigation will be in the hands of the Government of Jalisco and that the National Guard will serve as support in the region for security operations. Yet, he remains with his policy of “hugs and not bullets.”

The current governor, Enrique Alfaro, has also expressed in his Twitter account his “solidarity” with Sandoval’s family “in these difficult moments” and has ordered the security cabinet to travel to Puerto Vallarta to lead the investigations.

Sandoval was one of the governors raised by the PRI during the government of Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018) and was part of what was called the “new PRI.” During his government, violence related to drug trafficking intensified, and the Jalisco Cartel New Generation (CJNG) increased its power in the region while engaging in a fight for territory with the Sinaloa Cartel.