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Fears after Mexican politician disappears


Politician Diego Fernandez de Cevallos has disappeared

Politician Diego Fernandez de Cevallos has disappeared

Politician Diego Fernandez de Cevallos has disappeared

The mysterious disappearance of a former Mexican presidential candidate has sparked fear that nobody is safe from relentless kidnapping and rampant drug violence.

Diego Fernandez de Cevallos was reported missing over the weekend and his car was found in the central state of Queretaro with some evidence of violence. Authorities said that they do not know if he was kidnapped or if drug gangs were involved.

Many fear one of Mexico's most successful lawyers and enduring politicians was targeted by kidnappers and any involvement by drug trafficking gangs would signal an escalation in the government's bloody battle with organised crime.

"If it's a cartel action, it is definitely another escalation in the attacks of drug traffickers against the government," said George Grayson, a professor at the College of William & Mary in Virginia.

"It shows that no one is immune from their reach, not even a multi-millionaire super-lawyer."

There is still no evidence that the 69-year-old power broker has been kidnapped, said Ricardo Najera, spokesman for the federal Attorney General's Office.

Mr Fernandez de Cevallos' disappearance comes amid a wave of drug violence that has killed more than 22,700 people since President Felipe Calderon launched a crackdown against organised crime in December 2006. Drug traffickers are increasingly attacking political and government leaders in retaliation.

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Last week, gunmen burst into the farm supplies business of mayoral candidate Jose Guajardo Varela and killed him and his son after he ignored warnings to drop out of the race in Valle Hermoso, 30 miles south of Brownsville, Texas.

Prosecutors and police are aiding Queretaro state investigation in the probe that had lines of officers combing the fields of rural central Mexico for signs of Mr Fernandez de Cevallos.

Mr Fernandez de Cevallos was the 1994 presidential candidate of President Felipe Calderon's National Action Party and has continued to be an influential figure. He finished second to Ernesto Zedillo that year, but his party finally won the presidency six years later when Vicente Fox was elected.

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