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This essay seeks to identify the key factors that explain why local officials—specifically mayors, former mayors, mayors-elect, and mayoral candidates—are being killed in Mexico. Second, it aims to provide a set of policy alternatives to tackle this important threat to Mexican democracy, particularly in the context of the 2018 electoral process. To accomplish this goal, the paper uses the routine activity theory (RAT) crime triangle methodology to examine who are the targeted officials (the victims), who are the attackers (the offenders), and where the attacks have occurred (the place). Since official records are nonexistent on the subject, open source intelligence (OSINT) techniques are used to create a database that includes all attacks against local officials, from the first case recorded in Mexico on July 8, 2004, to March 1, 2018, when the researchers ended their data gathering process. The paper presents 178 documented deadly attacks (i.e., homicides) against local officials. Additionally, the paper examines a number of specific variables that appear to increase the risk of attack. As the cases are not distributed homogenously either spatially or temporally, the authors discuss the role crime concentration plays in these attacks. In particular, the paper focuses on studying municipios (i.e., cities) with “repeat victimizations,”—in other words, places where two or more mayors have been killed. Evidence-based approaches to the problem are proposed for a useful understanding of these high-profile attacks. An informed examination of previous cases can help to implement successful interventions for mitigating future attacks.
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