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Mexico activist slain — but by whom?

Nepomuceno Moreno was a father trying to get by when he was gunned down in his van at an intersection in Hermosillo.

At 56 years old, he made a simple living, selling seafood on the sidewalk.

But when his 18-year-old son disappeared last year, Moreno became an anguished parent, searching for answers about his missing child. In Mexico, this has become increasingly common. The war on drugs in this country has taken tens of thousands of lives since it began in 2006. That doesn't include the missing.

Moreno, in his quest, became one of the public faces of the missing, joining up with anti-violence groups to call for justice. He publicly said that masked police had taken his son, rather than random gunmen. 

Corruption in the police force is well-known. It's one of the reasons that Mexico had deployed military forces in the form of U.S.-trained marines to pursue the cartels. The hope is that they're less corruptible, more professional. Although, reports suggest the marines, too, have abused their power.

The general in this war, President Felipe Calderon, met with Moreno in October. 

Moreno, according to the AP, told Calderon that he feared for his safety, and that of his family. He said that the men who had taken his son were police officers working with organized crime.

Shortly afterward, Moreno was dead.

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Government officials say that Moreno himself was involved in drug trafficking. According to a spokesman for Sonora state attorney general's office, Jose Larrinaga Talamantes:

[He said] the victim had been involved with organized crime at least since his 1979 arrest in Arizona for heroin smuggling and possession.

In 1997, Moreno was jailed again on drug-related charges, Larrinaga said.

"There are various lines of investigation that remain open, but the principal one is his relationship with organized crime," Larrinaga said. Moreno's son's kidnapping was also being looked at, Larrinaga said.

Calderon has long said that the vast majority of victims of Mexico's violence have some ties to organized crime — that's code for drug cartels. That has outraged victims' families, who beg to differ.

No one will know why Moreno was killed, or who killed him now. These kinds of murders don't seem to get solved.

And the fear continues for the Morenos. Nepomuceno's living relatives now say that they, too, fear for their lives.

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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