By Daniel Borunda
El Paso Times
Sinaloa drug cartel members arrested after a shootout in Juárez could be linked to the murders of three New Mexico men kidnapped during a wedding earlier this month, Mexican federal police said.
Federal police officials on Thursday said a massive police response Wednesday afternoon resulted in eight arrests and the rescue of two kidnapped men, including a used-car salesman from El Paso held captive for 15 days. The salesman's name was not released.
Those arrested are three alleged members of the Aztecas gang and five alleged members of the Sinaloa cartel, officials said.
Aztecas are allied with La Linea, or Juárez drug cartel, in a turf war with the Sinaloa cartel, whose members in the region are known as the Gente Nueva, or new people.
Police seized a dozen AK-47s, a .223-caliber rifle, 10 handguns, 12 bulletproof vests, six vehicles and other equipment.
Officials said the incident started when Aztecas attacked a home in the 6000 block of Hermes, where Sinaloa cartel members were located. A stolen van was rammed into the house, and gunshots were fired at the building.
The attackers drove away but were spotted by federal police. Three alleged Aztecas were captured after a pursuit.
Federal police then went to the house on Hermes, where they confronted gunmen. Police arrested the alleged Sinaloa cartel members, seized 13 firearms and rescued a man, identified only by the moniker "El Pistolita" (the little pistol), who is apparently a member of La Linea who had been captive for eight days.
Using information received during the search, officers then raided a safe house supposedly used by La Linea in the 1600 block of Guadalupe Chavoya, where they rescued a 54-year-old car salesman who lives in El Paso, officials said.
Federal police said the Sinaloa group is suspected in several murders, including a double homicide Monday, the killing of two Cipol police officers apparently mistaken for members of La Linea and in the wedding abduction-murders.
"According to the first investigations, these subjects (Sinaloa cartel members) could be related to the homicide of four people kidnapped on May 7 at the doors of a church at Simón Barba and Valentín Fuentes streets," read an official statement.
Bridegroom Rafael Morales Valencia, his brother Jaime Morales Valencia and their uncle Guadalupe Morales Arriola were kidnapped by gunmen who burst into the wedding at El Señor de la Misericordia Catholic church in Juárez. The men were U.S. citizens from La Mesa in Doña Ana County. Three days later, their tortured bodies and a fourth man were found in the bed of a pickup.
Another man, Alonso Sotelo Corral, was fatally shot in the parking lot outside the church during the kidnapping.
Daniel Borunda may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org;546-6102.
Jesús Alfredo Cruz López, 30, of Juárez.
Tomás Antonio Duarte Amalla, 33, of Santa Barbara, Chihuahua.
17-year-old boy from Juárez.*
Alleged Gente Nueva
Porfirio "El Pino" Rubio Valle, 48, of Los Mochis, Sinaloa.
Ricardo Esteban "El Guaguis" Rubalcaba Reyes, 23, of Villa Ahumada, Chihuahua.
Cecilio "El Cilo" Torres Adriano, 44, of Choix, Sinaloa.
Jesús Emilio Gil Acosta, 39, of Chihuahua City.
José Alfredo "El Gordo" Monreal Escajeda, 37, of Los Mochis Sinaloa.
Source: Mexico Federal Police.
*Not named because he is a juvenile.