Mar 30, 2010

Detained gang member might not be suspect in consulate killings

04:28 PM

Yesterday we reported that the Mexican army had arrested a suspected leader of a drug gang in connection with the assassinations of three people linked to the U.S. consulate in Ciudad Juarez. Today it's being reported that he might not be a suspect in the murders after all.

Ricardo Valles de la Rosa, 45, an alleged leader of the Bario Azteca gang and a U.S. legal resident, was arrested Friday, Mexican authorities said. During a news conference yesterday in Mexico City, federal governance secretary Fernando Gomez Mont said "the detention of a person directly involved in the attacks against the Juarez consulate employees was confirmed," the El Paso Times writes.

But the paper adds, without elaborating, that "late Monday, the Mexican authorities said Valles wasn't a suspect in the deaths," and that, according to unnamed officials, "he is a person of interest in the 2009 slaying of another man in Juarez."

On March 13 gunmen with automatic weapons killed Arthur Redelfs, an El Paso County Sheriff's Office detention officer, and his wife, Lesley Enriquez Redelfs, who worked for the consulate, after they left a children's party. Not long afterward gunmen killed Jorge Salcido Ceniceros, a maquiladora supervisor and husband of Hilda Antillon, also a consulate employee, who had attended the same party.

According to court proceedings cited by the El Diario newspaper in Juarez, Valles was described as a professional hit man who was paid $2,000 a week to kill and who split his time between residences in El Paso and Juarez, the Washington Post writes. The paper adds, however that by late last night "authorities had released little information about the arrest of the Azteca gang member, leaving it unclear what motive, if any, the investigators suspect for the killings."

In reaction to the escalating bloodshed, U.S. authorities stopped deporting felons to Juarez in early March, returning them instead to Mexico through other Texas border cities such as Laredo, Del Rio and Eagle Pass. Read more on that from the Las Cruces Sun-News and the Wall Street Journal.

Juarez, population 1.3 million, is the most violent city in Mexico. Last year more than 2,660 people were murdered as a result of warring drug gangs, the government says. ... killings/1