Suspect: Sheriff's officer was killed in retaliation for alleged mistreatment
El Paso Times
A former Barrio Azteca gang member from El Paso suspected of being involved in the killing of three people tied to the U.S. Consulate in Juárez claimed the target of the attack was a detention officer who mistreated gang members at the El Paso County Jail.
Mexican authorities on Tuesday accused Ricardo "Chino" Valles de la Rosa, 45, of being a lookout for gunmen who carried out the hit.
Valles was arrested Friday by the Mexican army in Juárez and remains in custody in Mexico.
Valles alleged during his detention hearing that a gang leader ordered the hit on Arthur Redelfs, an El Paso County sheriff's detention officer, because Redelfs mistreated fellow gang members at the jail. Valles had another hearing Tuesday before a judge, also in Juárez.
The Barrio Azteca is a brother gang of the Juárez Aztecas gang, and both are aligned with the Carrillo-Fuentes cartel.
On March 13, gunmen shot and killed Redelfs, his wife, Lesley Enriquez Redelfs, who worked for the U.S. Consulate, and Jorge Salcido Ceniceros, a maquiladora supervisor and husband of consulate employee Hilda Antillon.
Valles said soon after his arrest that a gang leader ordered him to locate Redelfs the next time the detention officer entered Juárez. He said that on the day of the slayings he notified gunmen for the Aztecas that the white vehicle Redelfs was supposed to be driving had left a children's party at the Barquito de Papel hall.
In his statement to officials, Valles said he followed Redelfs' vehicle along Avenida Ribereña until the gunmen asked him to leave the area because "they had him." Redelfs and his wife were killed near the Stanton Street international bridge.
Because two white vehicles left the same party within minutes of each other, the gunmen decided to follow and attack both of them, officials said Valles told them. Redelfs and Salcido both drove white SUVs that day.
El Paso County sheriff's Deputy Jesus Tovar said Valles has a cocaine delivery charge pending against him in El Paso.
Redelfs was a detention officer for the El Paso County Sheriff's Office for more than 10 years.
Sheriff spokeswoman Chris Acosta said the Sheriff's Office had no comment on the allegations concerning Redelfs because the FBI was the lead agency responsible for any communications about the case.
"We will repeat what we said before -- that Arthur Redelfs was a professional who was well-respected," Acosta said.
Chihuahua Gov. Jose Reyes Baeza said the FBI and DEA are assisting with the investigation, mostly by providing intelligence.
"We still maintain that we have no information to indicate that any of the three were specifically targeted," FBI Special Agent Andrea Simmons said Tuesday. "U.S. law enforcement continues to work on this investigation and follow up on all leads." Soon after the killings, Mexican officials said the Aztecas gang was responsible. The FBI has extensively investigated the U.S.-based Barrio Azteca gang.
On March 18, U.S. investigators in El Paso County launched an operation to shake down Barrio Azteca members and their associates for information about the murders. A few days later, the Border Patrol received intelligence that the gang was considering some kind of retaliation for the operation.
Mexican officials said that several Mexican law enforcement agencies collaborated in Valles' detention, and that the federal attorney general's office was the lead agency for the investigation of the murders. Officials provided background about Valles, who was born in Juárez in 1964.
At the age of 6, Valles and his family moved to El Paso where he lived for 30 years. Valles, nicknamed "Chino," was a member of the notorious Los Fatherless street gang in South-Central El Paso.
On Oct. 15, 1995, he was sentenced to 14 years in prison on drug charges, and he met members of the gangs in La Tuna federal prison, including a leader that Mexican authorities identified as David Almaraz.
On July 25, 2007, Valles was released after serving 12 years in eight U.S.prisons. That year he moved to Juárez, where he joined up with the gang members there.
Valles' body is heavily tattooed with ancient Aztec imagery. "El Paso" is inked on the back of his neck, and "Chino" on his abdomen.
The Mexican army arrested Valles on Friday in the slayings of four rival gang members in Juárez and on a weapons charge for being in possession of a 9 mm handgun.
Last Oct. 21, Valles allegedly gunned down 32-year-old Marco Zapata Reyes at a chicken restaurant named El Pollo Sinaloense, authorities said.
He is also accused of killing David Angel Contreras Regalado a week later. Both victims were members of the rival Mexicles gang.
Officials said that in January, Valles allegedly shot and killed two members of the Artistas Asesinos (Artist Assassins, or Double A) gang who were in a blue-green Cadillac. Their names were not released.
Mexican Gang Member Admits Involvement in Americans’ Killings
Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua – A suspected member of the Los Aztecas gang arrested recently has admitted to involvement in the killings of two American citizens, one of them an employee of the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Mexican security officials said.
Ricardo Valles, who was arrested last Saturday, confessed that he took part in the March 13 killings of U.S. consular official Lesley Ann Enriquez and her husband, Arthur H. Redelfs, a detention officer at the El Paso County Jail, Coordinated Operation Chihuahua said in a statement.
Mexican citizen Jorge Alberto Salcido, the husband of another consulate employee, died in a similar attack minutes later.
Enriquez and Redelfs were U.S. citizens residing in El Paso. They drove to Juarez for the birthday party of another consulate employee, an event also attended by Chihuahua state policeman Salcido and his wife.
The suspect said he served as a lookout for Los Aztecas, a gang that works for the Juarez drug cartel, Coordinated Operation Chihuahua said.
Valles told authorities that he was ordered on March 13 to find Redelfs’ white SUV in Juarez, the gritty metropolis just across the border from El Paso, Texas, that has become Mexico’s murder capital.
The gang member, who goes by the nicknames “El Chino” and “El 29,” said he followed the couple after they left the place where the party was held “until ordered to pull back ... Moments later, he heard several shots,” Coordinated Operation Chihuahua said.
Valles said he saw “in the white SUV, in addition to the driver, a woman in the passenger seat,” security officials said.
The couple’s baby, riding in the backseat of the vehicle, was not harmed.
Valles admitted that he participated in four other killings, including murders in October 2009 and hits in January on members of the rival Mexicles and Doble A gangs, which work for the Sinaloa cartel.
The suspect, who was armed with a 9 mm pistol at the time of his arrest, was captured by army troops, “thanks to military intelligence information that allowed his location and identification,” Coordinated Operation Chihuahua said.
Valles, who was born in Ciudad Juarez in 1964, emigrated at the age of 6 to El Paso, where he lived for 30 years.
He belonged to the FLF gang, which battled other street gangs in the border area.
Valles was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Oct. 15, 1995, and sent to the Federal Correctional Institution-La Tuna in Anthony, Texas, a low-security facility outside El Paso.
He met Los Aztecas leader David Almaraz and other members of the gang while at the prison.
Valles spent 12 years in prison in the United States and was released in July 2007, when he returned to Ciudad Juarez and joined Los Aztecas.
Ciudad Juarez has been plagued by drug-related violence for years.
The murder rate took off in the border city of 1.5 million people in 2007, when more than 800 people were killed, then it more than doubled to 1,623 in 2008, according to press tallies, with the number of killings soaring to 2,635 last year.
Ciudad Juarez, with 191 homicides per 100,000 residents, was the most violent city in the world in 2009, registering a higher murder rate than San Pedro Sula, San Salvador, Caracas and Guatemala, two Mexican non-governmental organizations said in a recent report.
The death toll for this year currently stands at more than 600, including 16 people massacred on Jan. 31 while attending a birthday party in the Villas de Salvarcar neighborhood.