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Michoacan state is home to the country’s largest monarch butterfly reserve, a World Heritage Site, as well as many rival drug gangs who battle to control smuggling routes through often-arid terrain to the Pacific and the interior of the country.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador today described the assassination of the administrator of the Monarcas butterfly sanctuary, Homero Gomez Gonzalez, as regrettable and painful.
"It's part of what leads us to apply ourselves more every day to guarantee peace and tranquility in the country," López Obrador said. "It's tied to criminal organizations and we're working on this."
Michoacan Governor Silvano Aureoles recognized in Homero Gomez "a tireless activist and defender of the forests."
"He distinguished himself for his permanent work and coordination with the institutions," added the official.
The protector of the most precious butterfly in Mexico was found dead yesterday inside a well, near the town of El Soldado, municipality of Ocampo, Michoacan, after he disappeared on January 13.
Homero Gomez's relatives requested a DNA test, then the prosecutor's office carried out the necropsy and continued the investigation. Michoacan prosecutor Adrián López Solís said the body was at the Medical Forensic Service.
It was proven that he died of "asphyxiation by immersion" in a pot of agricultural water, contradicting first reports claiming that Gomez did not have any traces of violence on the body, López Solís had reported at a news conference Wednesday.
According to the UK-based Global Witness organization, there were 15 killings of environmental activists and rural leaders in Mexico in 2017 and 14 in 2018.