Cartel Hitman Gets Life for US Consulate Murders, Killed 1600 Others

HOUSTON, TEXAS--Cartel hit man 35-year-old Arturo Gallegos Castrellon, also known as "Benny," "51" and "Guero" of Mexico will spend life in U.S. prison for leading the assassinations of one U.S. Consulate employee, her husband, and a husband of another Consulate employee, according to the United State Department of Justice (USDOJ). The murders occurred in March 2010. 

Gallegos Castrellon was extradited from Mexico in 2012 and subsequently found guilty of six counts of murder, along with a slew of other drug and money laundering charges. 

Gallegos Castrellon was proven to be a leader of a violent crime gang called the Barrio Azteca (BA).

"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 DOJ stated in a press release. "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."

Under the supervision of Gallegos Castrellon, about 1,600 people were murdered, according to the DOJ. The Juarez-based U.S. Consulate employee, Leslie Enriquez, her husband Jorge Salcido Cencieros and another U.S. Consulate employee's husband were only three of the murdered individuals. 

Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said, "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. 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."

U.S. Attorney Pitman added, "I cannot overstate the significance of this victory in our ongoing efforts to end the depredations of the cartels operating along our Southern border."

On April 24, Texas-based U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone sentenced Gallegos Castrellon to life in prison, according to the DOJ. The release further stated that he was also ordered to pay over $1.5 million in restitution and forfeiture.

In addition to Gallegos Castrellon, an additional 35 defendants have been charged in connection to the murders, drug trafficking, and money laundering orchestrated by the gang leader. 26 have been convicted so far, according to the press release--one of the remaining fugitives is on the FBI's Top Ten Most Wanted list.

Follow Kristin Tate on Twitter @KristinBTate


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