Man Tosses Severed Head at Voting Station as Mexico's Midterm Election Violence Rages

A man threw a severed head at a voting station in Tijuana, Mexico, on Sunday, the latest in what has been one of Mexico's bloodiest elections in recent years, Reuters reported.

Local authorities reported the man had run away, but did not specify whether he had been captured. They added they found plastic bags with human remains and severed hands near the voting station.

Though the head was thrown at the voting station, Reuters noted it was not confirmed if the violence had to do with the current election.

According to security consultancy Etellekt, 91 politicians have been killed since the beginning of the election cycle in September. Additionally, attacks have risen by 17.5 percent as compared to the previous election cycle in 2017-2018, Reuters reported.

Security analysts said a majority of electoral violence in Mexico occurs at the municipal level, as a result of gangs. Gangs attempt to influence outcomes of elections to be in their favor, securing drug trafficking control and other criminal activity.

In 2018, there had been 152 political killings over the 10 months preceding the July election, Etellekt told Reuters. Of those 26 had been in the last two weeks of the campaign, before Andrés Manuel López Obrador was elected president.

Obrador took office in December 2018 and pledged to reduce violence. Mexico's overall number of homicides hit a record high that year, and continued to climb even higher over the next two years, Reuters reported.

Mexico midterm elections
People cast their vote at a polling station during midterm elections in Tijuana, Mexico, on June 6. Mexicans began voting Sunday in elections seen as pivotal to President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's promised "transformation" of a country shaken by the coronavirus pandemic, a deep recession and drug-related violence. Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images

Among the politicians killed this year was mayoral candidate Abel Murrieta, who had been handing out campaign flyers in May when he was shot in broad daylight at point-blank range. According to Etellekt, his death was the 83rd political killing since September.

Many other politicians have been sent death threats or threatened with violence, causing at least 18 candidates to withdraw from the electoral races, Etellekt told Reuters. For example, Cristina Delgado, an opposition politician planning to run for mayor of a municipality adjoining Oaxaca City in southern Mexico, did not register to compete in the race after receiving a death threat in January.

That threat was from an unidentified individual, and a message had been left for Delgado in the main square of the municipality along with a severed pig's head, local media reported.

"This is my turf and it has a boss. I'll kill you when you show up," part of the message said.

In the most recent election, thousands of positions are available for election, including many local leadership positions. This also includes all 500 seats in the lower house and 15 state governorships.

Around 93.5 million Mexicans are eligible to vote this election.

Tijuana midterm elections
Mexico’s midterm election cycle has seen a dramatic spike in violence this year. Above, a campaign rally in Tijuana on June 2. Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images