Mexico officials: Mayor killed in $6,000 hit

Two men were arrested for killing a small-town Mexican mayor for $6,000 in a land dispute, prosecutors said Thursday.

Nuevo Leon state Attorney General Alejandro Garza y Garza ruled out the involvement of drug gangs that have been blamed for the assassination of many other mayors in Mexico.

Prisciliano Rodriguez, mayor of Doctor Gonzalez, was gunned down Sept. 23 along with an aide. He was the fourth mayor killed in northeastern Mexico in a month.

Garza y Garza said the two detained men confessed to the contract killing of the mayor in a land dispute. He said an uncle of one of the two suspects hired them a week before the assassination, asking them if they "wanted a little job." The uncle remains at large.

The men were paid an initial $3,000 and given an R-15 rifle, an Uzi and a revolver, Garza y Garza said. On the day of the assassination, the uncle called his nephew and demanded the money back if they did not carry out the killing, the prosecutor said.

The suspects told police they traveled later that day to Doctor Gonzalez, where the mayor was coordinating a program to provide metal roofing to residents, Garza y Garza said.

He said the pair waited until Rodriguez got out of his car and then fired about 20 shots at him. The uncle allegedly met with them the next day and paid them the remaining $3,000.

Police matched guns buried in the backyard of one of the suspects to shell casings recovered at the scene of the shooting, said Adrian de la Garza, director of the state investigations agency.

The suspects were paraded in front of reporters with the weapons.

De la Garza said the land dispute involded "property boundary lines and ownership."

Small-town mayors are frequently assassinated in Mexico. Land disputes are sometimes the motive, but most attacks have been blamed on drug gangs that have tried to use isolated, lightly patrolled towns to hide and hold kidnap victims, weapons and drugs.

(This version CORRECTS that state investigator rather than attorney general said weapons were matched and gave details of land dispute; corrects that uncle allegedly paid shooters day after assassination rather than same day.)