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The Case Of The Missing Mexican Mayor

The mayor of a small town in northeastern Sonora was arrested earlier this month on drug trafficking charges, but the detention is leading to all sorts of mysteries.

Arturo Reyes Trujillo was the incoming mayor-elect from the conservative PAN for the town of Fronteras, Sonora, south of Agua Prieta.

He disappeared about Sept. 4, a detail that alarmed a few of my colleagues in Mexico but not much other notice was given.

Then the story started getting weird.

Reyes was allegedly arrested by federal Mexican police. I say "allegedly" because that's a detail that was noted only by the attorney general for the state of Sonora, not the Feds themselves. The attorney general, Carlos Navarro Sugich, then said Reyes had been arrested under orders of a U.S. judge.

Politicians were quick to distance themselves from Reyes.

Here's PAN-ista Sonora Gov. Guillermo Padrés to Vanguardía News: "I ask for everyone to be held responsible for our own deeds and to confront whatever proceeds from those, just as the mayor-elect will have to do."

When was he arrested? Before he disappeared? After? Nobody is saying.

For which specific charges? Nobody is saying.

Where is he being held? Nobody is saying.

Does the U.S. have an extradition order for him? Nobody is saying.

Right now, I see no court records in federal or even state court for Reyes. Nobody in various federal agencies I've contacted in the U.S. seem to know why or when he was arrested, or really, even, who he is. It could be that his indictment was sealed, something the American federal prosecutors like to do because it keeps fugitives and their lawyers from knowing the latest news in their case.

Reyes' case is also interesting because of the time element. He was supposed to take office Sept. 16. As you can imagine, U.S. investigations culminating in an arrest in another country are not quick matters. So had he been campaigning, and then won the election, while he was under investigation? Why not make the arrest public? Why crack the Mexican democratic system even more than it is by not arresting the man before he takes office? Why handle the arrest quietly?

If it's because of a security concern, that makes no sense: The Mexicans arrested Jorge Eduardo "El Coss" Costilla, the leader of the Gulf Cartel at 6 p.m. on Sept. 12 and then announced the arrest the very next day, marching Costilla out in front of the news cameras under armed guard.

These are questions I'm still looking for the answers to. We'll see what happens next.