"Silver or lead" in Mexico: Bribes or death

Byron Pitts reports from the Mexican drug wars

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In February 2010, only three months after becoming mayor, Cavazos was caught in a feud when the two cartels split. By then, many of Santiago's police were on the payroll for one of the cartels. Cavazos later disciplined some of the officers for extortion.

"So, Cavazos thought he was in control of everything," Pitts remarked.

"He wanted to be in control of everything," Garza said.

"But he wasn't," Pitts said.

"He knew that he was not in control because I had a chance to talk to him several months before his killing. He was worried of the police department," Garza said.

According to Garza, Cavazos was worried because of the corruption. "He didn't know exactly who do they work for," he explained.

"And he's not willing to look the other way," Pitts remarked.

"He wanted the police department to be the cleanest possible and not to be involved with the group of cartels. That's what he wanted," Garza said.

"And that was dangerous, to want that," Pitts said.

"Well, because at that moment, the police department didn't belong exactly to the mayor or to the county," Garza said.

Their uniform may have said "Santiago Police Department," but Garza said, "In reality, they were working for the cartels."

Mexico's four and a half year war against drug trafficking has led to chaos and bloodshed. Many of the nearly 40,000 drug related deaths are due to the criminals killing each other. But not always.

"I was worried about him. Everybody was. My mother-in-law also was worried about his life," Veronica Cavazos said.

If Cavazos was worried, he never told his family.

Last August 15, the mayor was in Santiago's town square celebrating International Youth Day. It was the last time townspeople would see him alive. With his family visiting relatives in Texas, Cavazos went home to an empty house. A security camera captured what happened next.

The video shows the police officer who guarded the house at night walking towards an approaching line of cars. When they pulled up to the front, armed men got out. Another camera caught the gunmen threatening Cavazos at the door. Moments later, he was pushed into the back seat of the lead vehicle. The police guard walked to the car behind and got inside. In less than three minutes the kidnapping was over.

"The surveillance camera at his house, how important was that to your investigation?" Pitts asked Alejandro Garza y Garza, who when we met him was the attorney general for the state of Nuevo Leon, the lead agency in the Cavazos investigation.

"Very important," he replied.

Garza y Garza says when the police guard was found the next morning, he claimed he was also a victim. "And he says he has been kidnapped with the mayor," he explained.

But the video, Garza y Garza says, showed the guard had not been kidnapped.

At the Cavazos home, family waited hours by the phone for a ransom demand. None was made.