MEXICO CITY – Mexican police on Feb. 3 arrested the reputed head of a Sinaloa drug cartel assassination ring who is accused of plotting a 2009 massacre at a drug rehabilitation center.
Federal police arrested José Antonio Torres Marrufo, identified as leader of the criminal organization known as “New People,” the armed wing of the Sinaloa cartel led by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, Mexico’s Public Security Secretariat said.
Torres, 33, was wanted by the Mexican authorities, which offered a US$150,000 reward for his capture, and the U.S. justice system, which accuses him of drug trafficking.
Torres allegedly masterminded the killing of 18 people at a drug rehabilitation center in Ciudad Juárez on Sept. 2, 2009 in what appeared to be a turf battle among drug gangs.
Ciudad Juárez, which is considered the most violent city in Mexico, is a short walk across the border from El Paso, Texas.
Torres allegedly coordinated the activities of murderers hired by gangs that called themselves the “Murder Artists” and the “Mexicles,” according to Mexican police.
The Mexicles are rivals of the Barrio Azteca and the Aztecs gangs linked to the Juárez drug cartel, Mexican police said. The Juárez cartel sometimes had disputes with the much larger and more powerful Sinaloa cartel for control of drug routes into the United States.
“The capture of Torres means a strong blow to the criminal structure” of the Sinaloa cartel, the Public Security Secretariat said. The arrest occurred in León, in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato, where Torres is accused of coordinating operations of the “New People” assassins.
[AFP (Mexico), 05/02/2012; Milenio (Mexico), 4/02/2012]