Mexico City – A suspect in the shooting in January of Paraguayan soccer player Salvador Cabañas has been arrested, Mexico’s Federal Police said Wednesday.
Jose Francisco Barreto Garcia, a reputed drug trafficker, was present when his boss, Jose Jorge Balderas Garza, shot Cabañas at the Bar Bar club in the southern section of Mexico City, the chief of the Federal Police’s drug enforcement unit, Ramon Pequeño Garcia said.
Barreto Garcia helped Balderas Garza make his getaway, Pequeño said.
The suspect was arrested Tuesday along with a man and a woman in Tlalnepantla, a city in the northern section of the Mexico City metropolitan area, Pequeño said.
Barreto Garcia was carrying cocaine, two handguns, three ammunition clips and 21 rounds of ammunition at the time of his arrest.
Cabañas, who plays for Mexico’s Club America, was shot in the head on Jan. 25 in the bathrooms at Bar Bar.
Security videos show Barreto Garcia and Balderas Garza following the Paraguayan star into the bathroom and then rushing out of the bar.
Federal Police investigators knew about Barreto Garcia as far back as February 2008, when officers arrested a cell of drug trafficker Edgar Valdez Villarreal’s organization in the city of Tultitlan, Pequeño said.
Barreto Garcia told authorities that he and Balderas Garza went to Bar Bar regularly on Wednesdays and Sundays, and they “knew some of the patrons,” including Cabañas, Pequeño said.
The suspect said Cabañas knew Balderas Garza and referred to him as “El Papi,” contradicting statements made by the Paraguayan player’s relatives, who have always said he did not know his assailants.
Balderas Garza spoke with Cabañas several times during the evening and criticized America for scoring few goals, angering the player, who got into a heated argument with the drug trafficker, Pequeño said, citing Barreto Garcia’s statement.
When Cabañas went to the bathroom, Balderas Garza followed him inside and “threatened him there, putting his arm around his neck, placing a pistol against his forehead and firing,” Pequeño told Televisa.
Barreto Garcia told investigators that Balderas Garza was drunk and possibly on drugs when he shot the soccer star, Pequeño said.
Investigators have determined that Balderas Garza is the head of the Valdez Villarreal organization in Mexico City, replacing Gerardo Alvarez Vazquez, who was arrested on April 21.
Balderas Garza “has a presence in the (Mexico City) metropolitan area” and “receives protection from some authorities,” Pequeño said.
Security guards at Bar Bar allowed the two drug traffickers to enter without an inspection because they were regulars, the Federal Police official said.
The 29-year-old Cabañas has recovered quickly but was unable to play for Paraguay at the World Cup in South Africa.