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San Miguel mayor denies city has fallen prey to cartels

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The mayor of San Miguel de Allende is denying that drug cartels have hit his city.

In response to a Bloomberg News story about organized crime extorting small businesses, Mayor Luis Alberto Villareal wrote an open letter to deplore “gossip and opinions of very few residents.”

“Drug Cartels Muscle Into Mexican Town Packed With Americans,” reads the headline of a Bloomberg story posted Tuesday.

This kind of crime was unthinkable here just a few months ago, reports the story, quoting an anonymous restaurant manager, as well as the head of a statewide bar and cantina association.

Bloomberg reported that the mayor hadn’t cooperated with a reporter before the story was published.

Speculation about organized crime in the celebrated expat enclave follows two recent murders. A restaurateur was gunned down in front of customers and the son of the owner of a construction-materials business was shot and killed on his way to work, local media report.

The local chapter of business chamber also wrote say none of its members have complained about an increase in criminal activity or shakedowns by cartels.

At the same time, the local chapter president, Jose Torres, said that “it’s correct to say there’s been an increase in the use and influx of drugs in our town” and that the murders were likely “directly or indirectly related to drug trafficking.”

San Miguel, a few hours drive from Mexico City, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to as many as 10,000 expats and snow birds, mostly Americans and Canadians. In 2018, Travel & Leisure magazine called the central Mexico locale the “best city in the world.”

Homicides in San Miguel’s state of Guanajuato have gone up by 260% since 2015. This year, 47 police officers have been killed, more than in any other state, according to Causa en Comun, a nonprofit that tracks police murders in Mexico, Bloomberg noted in its original reporting.

Source: Bloomberg Quint

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