High-level Juarez cartel member Jose Antonio "El Diego" Acosta Hernandez, who has been linked to at least 1,500 murders in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua, told investigators that he was in charge of about 45 young gunmen, officials said.
Acosta, who was arrested over the weekend, told Federal Police investigators that the gunmen he commanded ranged in age from 18 to 25, and he urged the young men to steer their lives in another direction.
Acosta’s mission was to eliminate members of the rival Sinaloa cartel, which the Juarez organization has been fighting for control of the border city of Ciudad Juarez, located across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.
The suspect confessed that it was his idea to set off a car bomb last year in Ciudad Juarez, which is in Chihuahua, marking the first such attack by Mexico’s drug cartels.
The car bombing killed four people, including two Federal Police officers, a paramedic and a doctor, on July 15, 2010.
A car packed with 10 kilos (22 pounds) of C-4 plastic explosives was apparently detonated with a cell phone on a busy street in the border city.
Acosta told investigators that he ordered the Jan. 31, 2010, massacre of 15 young men in Juarez’s Villas de Salvarcar neighborhood because some members of the rival Artistas Asesinos gang were attending the birthday party.
“Some of them were indeed members of the rival group, because many times that’s how they recruited them, looking for students and really young ones who would avoid getting stopped on the streets,” Acosta told investigators.
“Several of them were innocent,” Acosta acknowledged, adding that he felt “bad” when he heard about the victims.
The Villas de Salvarcar massacre “was not worth it” because innocent people were at the party, Acosta said.
The suspect told investigators that he became a drug trafficker in the same way that other people choose different occupations, like farming or retailing.
Four men were sentenced last month to serve 240 years in prison each for the birthday party massacre in Juarez.
Juan Alfredo Soto Arias, Aldo Fabio Hernandez Lozano, Jose Dolores Arroyo Chavarria and Heriberto Martinez were sentenced on July 11.
The Juarez cartel was founded in 1993 by Amado Carrillo Fuentes, who was known as the “Lord of the Skies” for his fleet of aircraft.
Amado’s brother, Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, and his son, Vicente Carrillo Leyva, who was arrested in 2009, took control of the cartel following the drug lord’s 1997 death after undergoing plastic surgery to disguise his identity.
The Juarez cartel, one of Mexico’s most violent criminal organizations, is waging a war against the Sinaloa cartel that has left about 9,000 people dead in the past five years.
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Protegían a 'El Blablazo' desde la Policía Estatal