Investigators in El Paso, Texas, arrested 17 alleged Mexican cartel-connected Barrio Azteca members after a 20-month investigation which culminated in a roundup this week in the “Safe City” of El Paso.
According to officials with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), their investigation resulted in 17 Barrio members arrested, according to KVIA. Another five were already in custody and six are still at large for criminal charges of “engaging in organized criminal activity” and “manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance”—as reported during a news conference on March 1. DPS advised that they were assisted by local law enforcement agencies, as well as the FBI, DEA, BATFE, and Homeland Security Investigations.
Officials were not able to confirm the immigration status of the suspects in custody or those still on the run. When asked about the suspects’ positions in the gang’s hierarchy, officials said they did not know what role each played. According to authorities, the suspects trafficked drugs in El Paso, Midland, San Antonio, Dallas, and throughout New Mexico.
Breitbart Texas has reported extensively on the Barrio Azteca Gang, aka Los Aztecas, and how they are aligned with La Linea, the armed wing of the Juarez Cartel. Los Aztecas act as foot soldiers for La Linea/Juarez Cartel or El Nuevo Cartel de Juarez. Barrio Azteca is a mixed gang of Mexican-Americans and illegal aliens from Mexico.
During a press conference, Special Agent in Charge Karen Flowers said, “We’re able to target low-level dealers, street-level dealers, operating here in El Paso, that are affecting the daily lives of El Pasoans, every single day,” Flowers further related that authorities seized more than $292,000 and: five pounds of heroin; three pounds of cocaine; 18 pounds of marijuana; and approximately a pound of methamphetamine.
A Barrio Azteca member is currently on the FBI’s Most Wanted Top 10 List while another lieutenant, Arturo Gallegos Castrellon, was accused of leading teams of assassins who carried out the U.S. Consulate shootings in March 2010, resulting in the murder of two diplomatic employees and a husband of one of the victims. Gallegos Castrellon was later sentenced to life in prison and was also accused leading a team of assassins who murdered nearly 1,600 others as part of a cartel conflict over a drug trafficking route from Mexico into the United States.
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.)