updated 12/13/2006 10:05:10 PM ET 2006-12-14T03:05:10

An unknown assailant shot dead the cousin of Mexico’s first lady, police said Wednesday, in a sobering reminder to new President Felipe Calderon of the urgency of his fight against crime.

Luis Felipe Zavala, a cousin of Calderon’s wife, Margarita Zavala, was shot three times in his SUV on the outskirts of Mexico City on Tuesday night, Carlos Flores, a senior prosecutor, told Mexican radio.

It was not clear why Zavala, a horse riding instructor, was shot and none of his belongings appeared to be stolen, the prosecutor said.

“We are ruling out robbery,” he said.

Calderon, a conservative who took office on Dec. 1, has promised to crack down on crime, especially drug trafficking.

The government sent 5,000 troops into the western state of Michoacan this week where narcotics gangs have killed more than 500 people this year in a power struggle.

Margarita Zavala was a deputy in Calderon’s ruling National Action Party but stepped aside to help her husband win July’s presidential election. The couple have three young children.

Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.

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