MEXICO CITY – A newly released video shows the mayor of a town in south-central Mexico being threatened and humiliated by armed members of a drug gang, and the mayor confirmed on Tuesday it is genuine.
Drug gangs have been known to demand money, jobs and contracts from mayors in Mexico's more violent regions. Some mayors have been killed for resisting. But the threats have seldom been recorded on tape.
The 2015 video posted to social media this week shows the mayor-elect of the town of Mazatepec being forced to kneel at gunpoint. The masked gunmen demand he give them money and appoint an ally to a key police post.
The mayor is heard saying he is willing to tolerate the gang, but couldn't come up with the amount of money they were demanding, which was equivalent at the time to about $400,000.
The gunmen are believed to belong to the "Rojos" gang, which operates in Morelos and the neighboring state of Guerrero.
Mayor Jorge Toledo Bustamante told Radio Formula on Tuesday that the video is genuine and said the demands for money have continued. He said he hadn't reported the incident previously because of fear of the drug gang and mistrust of judicial authorities.
He cited the murder of the mayor of a nearby town just weeks after the video was filmed as a justification for his fear.
He also said he wasn't the only mayor who was forced to meet with the gang, or forced to pay them money.
A video surfaced two years ago showing the mayor of a town in Guerrero meeting with a drug gang. In 2014, some officials or their relatives were caught on camera meeting with a drug cartel leader in the western state of Michoacan.
It is unclear if Toledo Bustamante committed any crime. He said he was going to give a statement to prosecutors on the incident.