MEXICO CITY—Abel Murrieta, candidate for mayor in the northern city of Ciudad Obregón, was handing out fliers on a crowded street corner on May 13. Music played from loudspeakers. He smiled and chatted with passersby.
Suddenly, two men approached and shot him 10 times in the face, neck and chest, police say. As the 58-year-old lawyer and former state prosecutor lay dying, his killers walked off calmly and terrified bystanders scurried for cover.
Across Mexico, variations on that scene have played out in the run-up to midterm elections on June 6. Even in a country with a history of electoral violence, this vote is shaping up as the most bloody in recent memory as more, smaller criminal gangs viciously compete to control local areas by intimidating or killing off politicians.