Latin America & Caribbean

Ex-Major League Baseball pitcher Narciso Elvira shot dead in Mexico

Mexican pitcher Narciso Elvira of the Kintetsu Buffaloes throws his hands in the air to celebrate after he pitched a no-hit, no run game against the Seibu Lions during a Pacific League professional baseball game at the Osaka Dome, in western Japan 20 June 2000 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Narciso Elvira also played for the Kintetsu Buffaloes in Japan from 2000 to 2001

Narciso Elvira, a Mexican retired Major League Baseball player, has been killed in his home state of Veracruz.

Elvira, 52, was shot dead along with his 20-year-old son. No arrests have been made, but police suspect criminals were behind the shooting.

Elvira began his major-league career as a pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1990. He later played in South Korea and Japan, before retiring as a farmer.

Elvira had been targeted by Mexican gangs before; he was kidnapped in 2015.

Police freed him 23 days after he was seized by men who said they belonged to the Gulf cartel, a criminal organisation in Veracruz. They found him chained to a tree.

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He said at the time that he had lost all hope after his captors had told him the ransom had not been paid.

Despite the 2015 kidnapping, Elvira stayed in his home state. His farm employed about 100 people.

"I like it here, to be with my people, those who saw me grow up, I wanted to be back here with them," he said about his decision to retire in Veracruz.

Elvira and his son Gustavo were driving on a road near the town of Medellín de Bravo when armed men ambushed their car on Tuesday.

Eyewitnesses told local media that the pair tried to flee on foot as the assailants opened fire.

Baseball fans in Mexico, the US, Japan and South Korea have been paying their respects on Twitter.

Mexico's murder rate has risen in recent years - 2019 was the bloodiest year on record, with 34,582 recorded killings.

Much of the violence is linked to criminal gangs who engage in drug trafficking, kidnappings and extortion of local businesses and farmers.

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Media captionA member of the Washington Nationals baseball team was kidnapped by gunmen in Venezuela in 2011

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