Monday, September 23, 2013

Narco violence leaves 10 dead after a baseball game in Ciudad Juárez

Execution gang which murdered two U.S. nationals in March 2010 may have carried out these killings

Guadalajara -
Over the past year officials in Ciudad Juárez, just across the border from El Paso, have been proudly pointing out that drug war homicides are dropping precipitously. But all is far from well in the city of 1.5 million, which is a major trafficking route to the enormously lucrative U.S. market (Mexican drug cartels operate in 1,286 U.S. cities).

Armed and masked gunmen carrying cuernos de chivo, or "goat horns" - a nickname for the the ubiquitous AK-47 - attacked family members celebrating a baseball victory about 9:00 p.m. Sunday evening, killing 10 of them, the Chihuahua state prosecutor has announced. Among the dead were a seven year old girl and two women. At least three other persons were wounded but survived. The victims included several adolescents.

Authorities believe the assailants were sicarios, or hired assassins, in the service of La Línea, a group which carries out contract executions for the Juarez Cartel.

On March 10, 2010, La Línea gunmen chased down and executed 25 year old U.S. national Lesley Ann Enriquez Catton while she was riding with her husband, 30 year old Arthur H. Redelfs, just a few blocks from the international border. Redelfs was an El Paso County Sheriff's Deputy, and Catton was an employee of the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez. The couple lived in El Paso. Catton commuted to her weekday job, a trip of just a few minutes from the border crossing.

On the day of their murders, a Saturday, the young couple crossed into Juárez to attend a birthday party hosted by a co-worker. Their nine month old child was in the backseat and escaped uninjured. But Redelfs and Catton, who was four months pregnant, both died at the scene. More details and images are in this Dec. 26, 2011 MGR report: Mexico extradites suspect in brutal Juárez execution of U.S. consulate employee.

The man who ordered the killings was La Línea founder José Antonio Acosta Hernández, 35. After extradition to Texas he eventually pleaded guilty to a total of 11 felonies, including the executions of Catton and Redelfs. When he was sentenced to 10 life terms without parole on Apr. 5, 2012, Acosta admitted to the court that he had ordered at least 1,500 killings during his criminal career. He said his biggest regret was that he would not be able to see his own small children grow up.

At sentencing, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone told Acosta - a former Chihuahua state police officer - that his crimes were the "most heinous and violent and callous" she had ever seen. "Life imprisonment is not enough for all the lives you have taken," she noted. The motive for the brutal murders of the American victims remains unclear. Juárez killer of pregnant U.S. consulate employee collects 10 life terms in El Paso.

There have been 313 drug war killings in Ciudad Juárez this year, a small fraction of the 3,075 which occurred in 2010. In 2012 there were 750 executions. For years Juárez held the reputation of the world's most violent city, but that changed in January 2012 when it receded to second place, facing stiff competition from even more violent Honduras. Mexico is home to 5 of the 10 most violent cities in the world; Juárez loses 1st place.

Ciudad Juárez was so violent just 20 months ago that cartel gunmen declared open season on local police, attacking them on sight. For several weeks officers were required to live in and operate out of fortified hotels. City officials were afraid they would be executed in their own homes (reports below).

On Aug. 31 a Mexican federal agency released drug war statistics indicating that since president Enrique Peña Nieto took office on Dec. 1, 2012, an average of 1,560 persons have died every month - about 52 each day. The PRI administration itself has advertised significantly lower numbers, and has yet to acknowledge the inconsistency reported by its own agency. Mexico admits 52 daily drug war deaths in Enrique Peña Nieto administration.

With no other options on the table, president Peña Nieto is following a national security strategy virtually identical to his predecessor's, focused on the same goal of taking down key narco bosses. Mexican army captures leader of Gulf Cartel. The drug war is in its 81st month. In December 2012, Mexico's attorney general said the country is confronting 60-80 cartels, as well as hundreds of regional and local gangs. The president's adherence to the approach of former president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa disproved widespread predictions by the U.S. press that he would abandon the struggle altogether, or attempt to arrange a peace with and among the warring cartels. There is no sign either will happen anytime soon. Peña Nieto: no option but to follow Calderón strategy.

Feb. 9 - U.S. travelers: a "generalized terror" of northern Mexico
Dec. 17, 2012 - The Second Amendment, NRA leave their mark in Mexico
Mar. 29, 2012 - U.S. drug czar tells House that Juárez is world's deadliest city

Severed heads, hands found at Ciudad Juárez bar
Fifteen die in attack on Chihuahua bar
Juárez police take refuge in fortress hotels to escape roaming cartel hit teams
Police are now primary targets of brazen daytime attacks in Ciudad Juárez
Revenge attack against Ciudad Juárez police patrol leaves one dead, five injured

Cartel hit men execute ambulance crew, 2 patients: another day of madness in Juárez

La Línea founder José Antonio Acosta Hernández, after his arrest

© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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