An alleged shooter and member of the Barrio Azteca (BA), a transnational border gang allied with the Juarez Cartel, was extradited from Mexico to the United States to face charges related to the March 2010 U.S. Consulate murders in Juarez, Mexico.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney John F. Bash for the Western District of Texas, Special Agent in Charge Luis Quesada of the FBI’s El Paso Field Office and Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made the announcement.
Jose Guadalupe Diaz Diaz, aka “Zorro,” arrived in the United States yesterday and made his initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Anne T. Berton in El Paso, Texas. Diaz is charged in a 12-count third superseding indictment unsealed in March 2011. According to court documents and previous trial testimony, Diaz allegedly participated in BA activities, including narcotics trafficking and acts of violence by BA members in Mexico. On March 13, 2010, Diaz allegedly shot and killed U.S. Consulate employee Leslie Ann Enriquez Catton and her husband, Arthur Redelfs.
A total of 35 BA members and associates based in the U.S. and Mexico were charged in the third superseding indictment for allegedly committing various criminal acts, including racketeering, narcotics distribution and importation, extortion, money laundering, obstruction of justice and murder. Of the 35 defendants, 10 Mexican nationals, including Diaz, were charged in connection with the murders of Enriquez Catton and Redelfs, as well as Jorge Alberto Salcido Ceniceros, the husband of a U.S. Consulate employee. If convicted, Diaz faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Of the 35 defendants charged, 34 have been apprehended. U.S. and Mexican law enforcement are actively seeking to apprehend the lone fugitive in this case, Luis Mendez.
Twenty-eight of those defendants have pleaded guilty, one was convicted by a jury, one is currently pending trial, one defendant committed suicide while imprisoned during his trial and three others are pending extradition from Mexico.
According to court documents and information presented in court throughout this case, the Barrio Azteca is a violent street and prison gang that began in the late 1980s and expanded into a transnational criminal organization. In the 2000s, the BA formed an alliance in Mexico with “La Linea,” which is part of the Juarez Drug Cartel (also known as the Vincente Carrillo Fuentes Drug Cartel or “VCF”). The purpose of the BA-La Linea alliance was to battle the Chapo Guzman Cartel and its allies for control of the drug trafficking routes through Juarez and Chihuahua. The drug routes through Juarez, known as the Juarez Plaza, are important to drug trafficking organizations because they are a principal illicit drug trafficking conduit into the United States.
The gang has a militaristic command structure and includes captains, lieutenants, sergeants and soldiers – all with the purpose of maintaining power and enriching its members and associates through drug trafficking, money laundering, extortion, intimidation, violence, threats of violence and murder.
Diaz’s extradition is the result of close coordination between U.S. law enforcement and the government of Mexico in the investigation and prosecution of this case. The cooperation and assistance of the government of Mexico was essential to achieving the successful extradition.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Trial Attorney Christina Taylor of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section, Trial Attorney Jay Alan Bauer of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney John Gibson of the Western District of Texas are prosecuting the case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico and the Criminal Division’s Offices of International Affairs and Enforcement Operations provided significant assistance in this case.
The FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force located at the Texas Anti-Gang Center in El Paso, FBI Albuquerque Field Office (Las Cruces Resident Agency), DEA Juarez and DEA El Paso investigated the case. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the U.S. Marshals Service; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Federal Bureau of Prisons; U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service; the Texas Department of Public Safety; the Texas Department of Criminal Justice; El Paso Police Department; El Paso County Sheriff’s Office; El Paso Independent School District Police Department; Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission; New Mexico State Police; Dona Ana County, N.M., Sheriff’s Office; Las Cruces, N.M., Police Department; Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility and Otero County Prison Facility New Mexico provided special assistance.
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