Fourteen cartel assassins were captured during two separate police operations earlier this week in the El Paso-Juárez Metropolitan Border Area.
The first operation occurred on July 1, when personnel from the state investigative and municipal police arrested 12 alleged assassins in colonia Bellavista after officers noted several people engaged in suspicious activity while carrying a beige suitcase at an intersection, according to local reports. When officers attempted to contact the suspicious individuals, they were fired upon and the police gave chase. A second patrol vehicle intercepted the fleeing group and exchanged gunfire, causing them to flee inside a nearby residence.
During the exchange, a municipal police officer sustained a wound to the leg and responding officers were able to recover two long rifles dumped by the fleeing suspects. Police later searched the residence where 12 alleged assassins were arrested–10 males and two females. Authorities identified those arrested as being members of “Los Aztecas,” one of the criminal groups blamed for the recent spike in killings in Juárez.
Los Aztecas are currently involved in an internal conflict between the “Old School Aztecas” loyal to the recently captured FBI Top 10 Most Wanted Fugitive Eduardo “Tablas” Ravelo. They are also at odds with the captured Bruno Angel Rangel, aka “El Bruno” and Carlos Arturo Quintana, “El 80,” the leader of La Línea. Los Aztecas, also known as “Barrio Aztecas,” operate in the El Paso-Juárez Metropolitan Border Area and were aligned with “La Línea” and the Juárez Cartel.
The 10 suspects are currently facing attempted murder, firearms, and drug charges. An assortment of long rifles, handguns, ammunition, ballistic vests, cash, and marijuana were also seized.
The second operation occurred on July 3, in Juárez, when state police arrested two “Los Mexicles” assassins after agents stopped their vehicle. The pair initially attempted to evade police in a Chrysler but were later stopped and found two be in possession of two Barretta 9mm handguns, ammunition, and cocaine. The two later admitted to their involvement in the murder of four different victims in various parts of the city. The two were being held pending charges.
Los Mexicles are a prison gang founded in Texas to unite incarcerated Mexican illegal aliens for protection against Mexican-Americans and black inmates. Like Los Aztecas, Los Mexicles operate on both sides of the border. Los Mexicles are aligned with the Sinaloa Cartel and are deadly rivals of Los Aztecas.
Juárez suffered 179 murders registered in the month of June alone.
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.) You can follow him on Twitter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org