Barrio Azteca Lieutenant Who Ordered the Consulate Murders in Ciudad Juarez Found Guilty on All Counts
|U.S. Department of Justice February 19, 2014|
The Barrio Azteca Lieutenant who ordered the murders of a U.S. Consulate employee, her husband, and the husband of another U.S. Consulate employee was found guilty by a jury on all counts charged announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman for the Western District of Texas, FBI Assistant Director of the Criminal Investigative Division Ronald T. Hosko, and Administrator Michele M. Leonhart of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Arturo Gallegos Castrellon, aka, “Benny,” aka “Farmero,” aka “51,” aka “Guero,” aka “Pecas,” aka “Tury,” aka “86,” 35, of Chihuahua, Mexico, was formally extradited to the United States from Mexico on June 28, 2012. Today, at the conclusion of a trial before U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone in the Western District of Texas, El Paso Division, a jury found Gallegos Castrellon guilty to five counts of racketeering, narcotics trafficking, narcotics importation, murder in a foreign country, and money laundering conspiracies and six counts of murder.
At trial, prosecutors presented evidence that the defendant was a leader in the Barrio Azteca, or “BA,” a violent street and prison gang that began in the late 1980s and expanded into a transnational criminal organization. According to information presented in court, the BA formed an alliance with “La Linea,” which is part of the Juarez Drug Cartel. The Juarez Drug Cartel is 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, Chihuahua, Mexico. The drug routes through Juarez, which is known as the Juarez Plaza, are important to drug trafficking organizations because it is a principal illicit drug trafficking route into the United States.
In addition, prosecutors presented evidence that the defendant was in charge of Barrio Azteca teams of assassins, which he helped create and supervised in 2008 through 2010. Testimony and other evidence at trial established that 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 showed that the defendant ordered the March 13, 2010, triple homicide in Juarez, Mexico, of U.S. Consulate employee Leslie Enriquez, her husband Arthur Redelfs, and Jorge Salcido Ceniceros, the husband of another U.S. Consulate employee. The jury also heard evidence that the defendant was the mastermind of the July 15, 2010, car bombing in Juarez, Mexico, which targeted Mexican Federal Police.
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 in Juarez, Mexico; 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 six are awaiting extradition. U.S. law enforcement officials are actively seeking to apprehend the two remaining fugitives in this case, including Eduardo Ravelo, an FBI Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitive.
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 AUSA 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.
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; Federal Bureau of Prisons; U.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, New Mexico Sheriff’s Office; Las Cruces, New Mexico Police Department; Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility; and Otero County Prison Facility New Mexico.