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Sonoran councilwoman assassinated in Cajeme

A Sonoran councilwoman was murdered in the southern part of the state this week. Officials say they are investigating the killing as a femicide.

Veronica Montiel Cortez was shot and killed in Cajeme on Wednesday night after leaving the gym with her son and daughter-in-law.

Officials say the 45-year-old councilwoman for the municipality of Bacum, in Yaqui territory, was standing next to a pickup when two men on a motorcycle approached, shot Montiel in the head at close range and fled the scene.

The State Attorney General’s Office said the killing is being investigated as a femicide — or the murder of a woman because of her gender.

Montiel, who ran for mayor in Bacum last year, is one of about 30 people who have been murdered so far this month in the southern Sonoran municipality of Cajeme, which has seen soaring murder rates in recent years.

Other political figures have also been killed in the municipality in recent years, including the assassination of mayoral candidate Abel Murrieta last May. In 2019, the city secretary from Bacum was also murdered in Cajeme.

Kendal Blust was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2018 to 2023.