Barrio Azteca Lieutenant Who Ordered the Consulate Murders in Ciudad Juarez Sentenced to Life in Prison
WASHINGTON—Arturo Gallegos Castrellon, aka “Benny,” “Farmero,” “51,” “Guero,” “Pecas,” “Tury,” and “86,” 35, of Chihuahua, Mexico, the Barrio Azteca lieutenant who ordered the March 2010 murders of a U.S. Consulate employee, her husband, and the husband of another U.S. Consulate employee, was sentenced today to serve life in prison.
Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman for the Western District of Texas, Special Agent in Charge Douglas E. Lindquist of the FBI’s El Paso Division, and Administrator Michele M. Leonhart of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made the announcement.
“Arturo Gallegos Castrellon led the teams of assassins who carried out the U.S. Consulate shootings in March 2010 and ruthlessly murdered nearly 1,600 others as part of a cartel conflict over a drug trafficking route from Mexico into the United States,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General O’Neil. “His gang of killers terrorized and victimized men and women on both sides of the border, but thanks to the hard work of our law enforcement partners, he will now spend the rest of his life in prison for his crimes.”
“I cannot overstate the significance of this victory in our ongoing efforts to end the depredations of the cartels operating along our Southern border,” said U.S. Attorney Pitman. “This prosecution has called to account Arturo Gallegos Castrellon for the senseless murders he orchestrated in Ciudad Juarez and elsewhere and demonstrates our commitment to ending the murder and mayhem he and the cartels have fomented.”
“The DEA is committed to ensuring cold-blooded criminals, like Arturo Gallegos Castrellon, who murder innocent victims, traffic huge amounts of drugs worldwide, and incite violence are taken off the street and remain behind bars,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “Castrellon’s conviction and life sentence is a clear sign that the DEA, along with our law enforcement partners, will not tolerate those who attack Americans abroad and is committed to upholding the rule of law, protecting our citizens, and bringing to justice the world’s worst criminals.”
Today’s sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone in the Western District of Texas. In addition, Judge Cardone ordered Gallegos Castrellon to pay $998,840 in restitution and $785,500 in forfeiture.
After his extradition from Mexico on June 28, 2012, a federal jury found Gallegos Castrellon guilty of six counts of murder and conspiracies to commit racketeering, narcotics trafficking, narcotics importation, murder in a foreign country, and money laundering.
Evidence at trial proved that Gallegos Castrellon was a leader in the Barrio Azteca (BA), a violent street and prison gang that began in the late 1980s and expanded into a transnational criminal organization. The BA formed an alliance with “La Linea,” part of the Juarez Drug Cartel, which is also known as the Vincente Carrillo Fuentes Drug Cartel (VCF). The purpose of the BA-La Linea alliance was to battle the Sinaloa Cartel and its allies for control of the drug trafficking route through Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. The drug route through Juarez, known as the Juarez Plaza, is important to drug trafficking organizations because it is a principal illicit drug trafficking route into the United States.
Evidence at trial also proved that Gallegos Castrellon was in charge of BA teams of assassins, which he helped create and supervised in 2008 through 2010. His teams killed up to 800 persons between January and August 2010, reaching a total of nearly 1,600 in a multi-year period.
Trial evidence also proved that Gallegos Castrellon ordered the March 13, 2010, triple homicide in Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, of U.S. Consulate employee Leslie Enriquez, her husband Arthur Redelfs, and Jorge Salcido Ceniceros, the husband of another U.S. Consulate employee.
A total of 35 defendants were charged in the third superseding indictment and are alleged to have committed various criminal acts, including the 2010 Juarez Consulate murders, as well as racketeering, narcotics distribution and importation, retaliation against persons providing information to U.S. law enforcement, extortion, money laundering, murder, and obstruction of justice. Of the 35 defendants charged, 26 have been convicted, one committed suicide before the conclusion of his trial, and two remain fugitives, including Eduardo Ravelo, an FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive.
The case was investigated by the FBI’s El Paso Field Office, Albuquerque Field Office (Las Cruces Resident Agency), DEA Juarez, and DEA El Paso. Special assistance was provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the U.S. Marshals Service; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the Federal Bureau of Prisons; the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service; the Texas Department of Public Safety; the Texas Department of Criminal Justice; the El Paso Police Department; the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office; the El Paso Independent School District Police Department; the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission; the New Mexico State Police; the Dona Ana County, New Mexico Sheriff’s Office; the Las Cruces, New Mexico Police Department; the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility; and the Otero County Prison Facility New Mexico.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Joseph A. Cooley of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section, Trial Attorney Brian Skaret of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney John Gibson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Texas-El Paso Division. Valuable assistance was provided by the Criminal Division’s Offices of International Affairs and Enforcement Operations.