The body of a renowned butterfly expert in Mexico was found in a rainwater tank Wednesday—and few people think he got in there by himself. Homero Gomez, 50, was the manager of a butterfly sanctuary in Michoacan state, which has been wracked by cartel violence, the New York Times reports. He was reported missing on Jan. 14 and relatives say he had been receiving death threats from a gang, reports the BBC. His body was found in the town of Ocampo not far from where he was last seen. Prosecutors said last week that 53 police officers—the entire police forces of Ocampo and the nearby town of Angangueo—had been detained for questioning regarding the disappearance.
The mountain forests of Michoacan are a key overwintering site for monarch butterflies, which travel to Mexico from the US and Canada every year in a round-trip that can involve several generations of butterflies traveling up to 6,000 miles. Gomez was a devoted campaigner for the protection of monarch butterflies and their habitat, which is threatened by illegal logging. The El Rosario sanctuary he managed opened in November. Mayte Cardona at the Human Rights State Commission of Michoacan tells Reuters that Gomez "was probably hurting the interests of people illegally logging in the area." Authorities have not determined a cause of death. (Read more Mexico stories.)