U.S. charges 10 in Ciudad Juarez killings
Wednesday, March 9, 2011; 8:42 PM
U.S. authorities said Wednesday that they have charged 10 alleged Mexican gang members with murdering two Americans and a Mexican man who had ties to the U.S. consulate in Ciudad Juarez.
U.S. Consulate employee Leslie Ann Enriquez Canton and her American husband, Arthur Redelfs, were gunned down in broad daylight last March 13 as they left an event sponsored by the consulate, which is located just across the border from El Paso.
The suspects, part of the Barrio Azteca gang, were also accused of murdering a Mexican man, Jorge Alberto Salcido Ceniceros, who was married to another consulate employee, around the same time in another part of the city after they left the same event.
Seven of the 10 defendants are in custody in Mexico, and the United States is working with Mexican authorities to extradite them for prosecution, the Justice Department said
Prosecutors also revealed a new indictment against 25 others accused of being part of Barrio Azteca. They were charged with a wide range of offenses, including money laundering, drug offenses and racketeering.
Seven of those suspects are already in U.S. custody, and 12 others were arrested Wednesday in the United States. Three remain fugitives, including Eduardo Ravelo, who is on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.
"Without question, the arrests and charges that we are announcing today will disrupt Barrio Azteca's current operations," Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said. "Criminal by criminal, gang by gang, mile by mile, we will keep up our fight to end the scourge of violence along our southwest border."
He said the gang has been operating in western Texas and Ciudad Juarez, as well as in prisons on both sides of the border, since the late 1980s and has since expanded to become a transnational criminal organization.
The motive for the murders was not described in the indictment, but Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, head of the Justice Department's criminal division, told reporters that it could have been a case of mistaken identity.
Violence has plagued the area of Ciudad Juarez as rival drug gangs have fought for control of the city.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon launched a war against the cartels in 2006, and more than 36,000 people have been killed in connection with the struggle.