Gunmen kill Mexican environmental activist and son


Freshly cut trees.


Issouf Sanogo

An environmental activist who took a stand against drug gangs has been murdered along with her 10-year-old son in the southern state of Guerrero.

Juventina Villa Mojica was under police protection after receiving death threats when she went to make a phone call and was ambushed by at least 30 attackers, reported Democracy Now. Her seven-year-old daughter survived, but her 10-year-old son was also killed. More than 20 members of her extended family, including her husband and two other children, had already been murdered.

More from GlobalPost: Cambodia environmentalist shot dead by police

Mojica and her late husband, Ruben Santana Alonso, had led a group of farmers in the village of La Laguna for more than 20 years, according to the Associated Press. The village is part of Coyuca de Catalan, an area riddled with drug traffickers trying to expand their marijuana and opium-poppy fields.

"It's a virgin area with rich forest areas, and the main interest of drug traffickers is cutting down the trees so that once it is deforested they can expand their drug fields," said Manuel Olivares, a human rights activist who knew Mojica.

Before being murdered, the activist ended up in front of her police escorts because she was riding on an ATV in rough terrain while five police officers were in a patrol car and the rest were walking, reported Agence France-Presse.

"This situation allowed the assailants to surprise them since they were apparently waiting for them," a government statement said.

Mojica's murder took place as 45 families were to be relocated under police protection, AFP continued. The government said it was now increasing security around the families.