Cartel-Connected Mexican Police Chief Caught Sneaking into U.S.

PHOENIX, Arizona — A Mexican police chief who is believed to be working with drug cartels was arrested after he illegally crossed into Arizona while fleeing from Mexican authorities.

U.S. federal authorities recently arrested Jose Guillermo “La Barbie” Duarte Astorga the deputy police chief of Nogales, Sonora, at the Nogales International Port of Entry after he attempted to enter the country. Officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection detained him after learning that he had a prior immigration violation, an agency statement revealed. 

The fleeing Mexican law enforcement official was allegedly turned over to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for questioning, Mexican news outlets reported. However, the agency has not released any statements confirming or denying the issue. Nogales borders Arizona and sits in the path of a major drug smuggling route into the United States utilized by the Sinaloa Cartel and smaller affiliated cells.

Duarte appears to have been on the run from Mexican federal authorities after being suspected of having provided police weapons to drug cartels. The case began when Mexican Army personnel led by General Salvador Fernando Cervantes Loza conducted two highly-publicized firearms inspections of the installations of the Nogales police department.

In the first inspection, troops blocked entrances and exits to the police facility preventing police personnel from departing while the inspection was taking place. It was reported that Deputy Chief Duarte strongly objected to the inspection and had a heated verbal confrontation with General Cervantes. The inspection was eventually completed and soon after, they returned to carry out a second inspection of the armament.

As per Mexican law, the Office of the State Secretary of Public Safety in Sonora is responsible for arming state and municipal police. Each agency is required to complete a detailed inventory of all issued firearms to include, a description of where the firearms are stored and if they remain in the possession of personnel. The Mexican military also has jurisdiction over the control of firearms in Mexico.   

During the first inspection, military personnel discovered that various weapons were missing and the police agency also had other weapons that had not been registered, intelligence sources in Nogales, Sonora disclosed to Breitbart Texas, as well as the fact that Duarte was being investigated for possible ties to criminal organizations and was believed to have been tipped off to his impending arrest being leading to his escape to Arizona. 

In recent history, the Nogales Municipal Police has been plagued with scandals tied to public corruption and the arrest of its officers.  According to local media, Mexican cops from that agency have been arrested trying to smuggle drug shipments into Arizona, others for robbing two businesses at gunpoint and most recently another officer was caught trying to smuggle drugs into a Sonoran state prison.

Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce has worked in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year assignment in Monterrey, Mexico, working out of the Consulate for the United States Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program, where he was the Regional Program Manager for Northeast Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas.)


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