Patricia Davila Proceso 10-23-2012
Translated by un vato for Borderland Beat
Marisela Escobedo had become an annoyance. Her murder in December, 2010, took place under such unusual circumstances that it suggests government complicity. From exile, the activist's family continues to fight for her murderers' punishment; they even provided Mexican and U.S. authorities the name and physical description of the murderer...all in vain. The Chihuahua government has produced fabricated confessions, apparently for the purpose of laying to rest a matter in which only corruption has excelled.
Mexico, D.F. (Proceso).-- "My mother's murderer is Andy Alonso Barraza Bocanegra, not Jose Enrique Jimenez Zavala, 'El Wicked', as the governor of Chihuahua, Cesar Duarte, is trying to make everyone believe. Seven months ago, we provided the Chihuahua government Prosecutor's office (Fiscalia) and the Mexican Attorney General (PGR; Procuraduria General de la Republica) with photographs and the name of the real murderer. I don't know why they fabricated a murderer."
From his exile in El Paso, Texas, Juan Fraire Escobedo -- the son of Marisela Escobedo Ortiz, the activist murdered on December 16, 2010 --says he is disappointed with the actions taken by the Mexican authorities. In an exclusive interview with Proceso, he has decided to make public the identity of the person that, according to Ricardo Escobedo -- Juan's uncle and witness to the crime -- is his mother's real murderer.
Fraire asserts that Andy is a U.S. citizen, the brother of Sergio Rafael, "El Comandante Bambino", the leader of a Zeta cell in Fresnillo, Zacatecas, who was accused in 2009 by (Marisela) Escobedo Ortiz of murdering her daughter, Rubi Marisol.
"We always considered my mother's murder to be a crime of state. That "La Linea" and "Los Zetas" murdered her with the help of the Chihuahua government, (with the help of) Governor Cesar Duarte and (State) prosecutor Carlos Salas, because she was pressuring them to arrest Sergio Barraza for Rubi's homicide. The one who benefited from her death is the state."
Although they are in exile in El Paso, the Escobedos have refused to allow Marisela's and Rubi's murders to go unpunished. For months, through the Mexican Consulate, they pressured officials of the Federal government and the State Prosecutor to meet with them to keep them informed on the investigations.
On December 13, 2011, three days before the anniversary of Marisela Escobedo's murder, her son Juan carried out one of several protests in front of the (Mexican) Consulate in El Paso. From there, he went to the Wal-Mart shopping center near the Zaragoza International Bridge. At the door to the store, a man intercepted him.
"He asks if I'm Fraire Escobedo -- even though I didn't know him, I immediately associated him with the family of Sergio Barraza--. I took a step back. He said: 'Follow me'. At that moment, I see he is joined by a young man who gets in behind him with another one lurking near by," he recalls.
"Yes, I'm Fraire Escobedo. I know you're Andy, Sergio Barraza's brother, I answered. In a mocking tone, he made the threat; 'Look, you son of a bitch, I'm going to kill you then I'm going after all your family.' He was overbearing. I knew I was weak. I got scared. I went into the store. It was Christmas and there were a lot of people. I went into one of the aisles trying to reach my family but I sensed them following me. I turned around and, in fact, he was a couple of yards behind me."
Jose continued walking while dialing 911 on his cell phone to ask for help: "I stopped and faced him. He realized I was talking with an operator and was startled, he walks from one side to the other. Finally, he turns around and goes away. He didn't know my wife and children, so I told them to leave because I assumed that Andy could be outside waiting to kill me."
A few minutes later the police got there.
"I explained my situation, who Andy Barraza was and his relationship to the Zetas. The officers told me they had information that the cartel was recruiting young people in El Paso. Afterwards, they obtained the surveillance video from Wal-Mart. The videos showed the acts of intimidation. They wrote a report and then took me to file a complaint with the police department's organized crime unit."
Weeks later, Carlos Spector, Juan Fraire's lawyer, was informed of Barraza's arrest in an operation targeting a house where drugs were being sold. According to State of Texas Case No. 20120C00187, Andy Barraza spent 90 days in jail for "terrorist threats."
This wasn't the first act of intimidation by Andy against the Escobedos. A complaint dated September 13, 2010, filed in Ciudad Juarez by Marisela Escobedo before Miguel Angel Vargas Rodriguez, Public Ministry agent, was attached to the case: "On the 9th day of this month, Andy went looking for me in the lumberyard owned by Jose Monge, my boyfriend. He asked for me, and when he didn't find me, he left a message: 'Tell her I'm Andy, the brother of Sergio, the one who took Rubi's life."
Next day-- according to the file -- the activist got a call from Karina, a friend. She said that Andy had told her he was "hunting" for Marisela and showed off the pistol with which he was going to kill her. In the file, there was also a physical description of the person who was to be her executioner: heavyset, light olive skin, black hair cut almost bald, no mustache, uses earrings, brown eyes, plucked eyebrows, about 19 years old and approximately 5'5" (165 cm) tall.
Towards the end of 2011, the Fraire Escobedo family became aware that the Chihuahua government had presented Hector Miguel Flores Moran, "El Payaso", as the person who carried out Marisela's murder. Days later, on January 20, 2012, the family managed to get the Mexican authorities to travel to El Paso.
Juan recalls: "My uncle Ricardo, the lawyer, Carlos Spector and I met with Cesar Augusto Peniche, PGR delegate in Juarez, and with Federal Public Ministry (agent) David Mendoza, and, on behalf of the Fiscalia (state prosecuting entity), prosecutors Ruben Ramirez and Rosa Maria Sandoval. In that meeting, Ricardo insisted that El Payaso was not his sister's killer. They disregarded him."
After that meeting, and for two months, Spector and Juan Escobedo collected photographs of criminals registered in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. The activist's son would send them to Ricardo to see if he could identify Marisela's murderer. Finally, one day he recognized the murderer's face, who turned out to be Andy Barraza. They informed the PGR and on March 20, the same people that attended the first meeting met again. This time, David Mendoza showed Ricardo another package of photographs; without any hesitation, he again identified Andy Barraza as the murderer.
Juan Escobedo continues: "On April 27, I met once again with (PGR) Delegate Peniche to find out how Andy's arrest was proceeding. . He told me he had to present the evidence before a Federal judge to validate it, prepare the case file and begin an investigation. Andy is a U.S. citizen, but, because the murder took place in Mexico, there had to be an arrest warrant in place in that country to request an extradition order."
On May 8, at the Camino Real Hotel in El Paso, Juan Escobedo met for the last time with Peniche and David Mendoza, who told him that the PGR was evaluating taking over his mother's murder case. "I told him I didn't want the (Chihuahua State) prosecutor to keep the case because I didn't trust Prosecutor Carlos Salas or the judicial investigators."
A few days later, Fraire tried to get in touch with David Mendoza by phone and through email with Peniche, but he got no response. Juan shows Proceso some of the emails he sent.
--Why didn't (you) want the State prosecution to take over the case?
--After my mother was assassinated, Manuel Garcia, "El Meny", a friend of hers, became a protected witness for the prosecution. This man was with her in Zacatecas, he knew the details of the investigation of Sergio Barraza. He accompanied a Chihuahua Ministerial Police commander with a last name of Santa Cruz and took him to the places we were keeping an eye on. He told him that Sergio worked for the Zetas, that he was in Rio Grande working under a leader called "El Bulldog".
The video above includes footage of two notable events. In court when her daughters killer was pronunced "not guilty" Marisela reacts with an outburst reflective of her years of anger, pain and frustration. Secondly, her assassination is captured on film.
Protection with conditions
In an interview with this journal, Manuel Garcia recalls: "I went with Mrs. Marisela to Zacatecas. I was with her the day that the police from that state almost arrested Sergio at his wife's house. Some days before she was killed we returned to Chihuahua for Christmas. A week after the murder, Norma Ledezma, the founder of the Association for Justice for our Daughters, came to my house accompanied by a (police) commander with a last name of Santa Cruz; they wanted information about the investigation that Marisela carried out in Zacatecas."
"El Meny" agreed in exchange for them getting him out of Juarez. A week later, they came back to his house to close the deal. They took him to the capital o give a statement, but once there they told him he had to accompany Santa Cruz over the same steps that Marisela followed when she was looking for her daughter Rubi's murderer.
"I took him to the places where Sergio's wife lived, from where he got away the first time; I took him to the contacts that gave us information, they took photographs and statements from everybody. This was at the end of January or the first days of February. They told us that Sergio was living in Colonia Esparza, in Fresnillo. In addition, during the last trips I made with Marisela, Sergio was beginning to be known as "El Comandante Bambino," he recalls.
In trip with Santa Cruz, they obtained a compact disk (CD) with eight songs in which, with a "reggaeton" rhythm, Sergio describes Rubi's murder and threatens the people looking for him.
"The State Prosecution Agency (Fiscalia) kept the CD, although in Fresnillo, you hear to those songs even in a cab. On one occasion, I saw Sergio outside the hotel where we were staying. I pointed him out to Commander Santa Cruz, he called Rosa Maria Sandoval to get authorization to arrest him. She told us to come back because Sergio had an amparo (protective court order). Afterwards, from Santa Cruz himself I learned that this woman is in constant contact with Barraza's mother."
Before they returned to Chihuahua, Manuel took Santa Cruz to see one of Marisela's informants. "He surprised us. He stated that Sergio ordered his brother Andy to kill her. This appears in the statement."
"Back in Chihuahua, they took me to give a statement in the offices of Norma Ledezma; then, while waiting to be sent to the U.S., they put me up in a hotel near to the offices of the Fiscalia (State Prosecutor). I stayed there a month. One day the commander showed up and told me that my statement was of no use to (prosecutor) Sandoval, that if I changed it, they would give me the protection I was asking for. (They wanted) for me to say that Marisela's family and I were "Chapo" Guzman people and that we took drugs to El Paso. That she would give me a pardon. I told them that there was nothing to pardon me for. I didn't sign."
He goes on: "On March 1, they sent me to Torreon by plane. Right before that, Norma Ledezma came to the hotel, very annoyed, and told me not to count on them for anything, to take care of myself any way I could. The Fiscalia deposited 5,000 pesos in a bank account in my name in Banco Azteca; however, I never took any money out; two days later they closed it out. In Torreon, I learned that somebody murdered Angel Gabriel Valles Maciel, who had testified that Sergio killed Rubi and that Andy helped him dispose of the body. I called Norma and Santa Cruz and they said it was somebody else. They lied to me."
Afraid, Garcia returned to Juarez and, with the help of Imelda Marrufo, Director of the Women's Table (Mesa de Mujeres) in Ciudad Juarez, he went to the Nuevo Laredo (international) bridge. Today, he's just another one of the many Mexicans that, with Spector's help, are waiting to be granted asylum by that country.
-Did you ever ask why they never investigated Andy Barraza?-- Marisela's son is asked.
--I've got recordings of the meetings with the PGR and the Fiscalia (State Prosecutor's office) where my uncle Ricardo officially identified Andy and when Attorney Rosa Maria Sandoval told me that if I wanted information to go to Chihuahua. I told her: 'Lady, you know we can't go into Mexico'. She answered, 'What are you afraid of?' I told her I had received death threats and did she think it was no big thing that my mother and my sister had been murdered.
"I repeat, the State was complicit in my mother's murder. I have my mother's file up to June, 2011, but the Prosecutor's office (Fiscalia) "disappeared" the statement she gave on December 8, 2010, when (Governor) Duarte, very annoyed, sent her to Carlos Salas to give a statement.
"When she was finished, Salas read the statement aloud. She gave information on everything; how Rio Grande and Fresnillo were controlled by the Zetas. She provided a list of the safehouses, weapons warehouses, vehicles that Sergio used to move around, names of people he dealt with and the officials she interviewed. She also pointed out that the PGR commander in Rio Grande told her that the cartel was in control of the area and that if they did not want to surrender Sergio Barraza, there was nothing he could do.
"My mother had the information for two months. She had not shared it with anyone. Was it a coincidence that she was murdered a week after she provided it to the State Prosecutor (Fiscalia)?" asks Juan Fraire.
He mentions one other factor that, for him, proves the state's complicity: According to the file, every day, the doors of the Government Palace close at 8:00 p.m. The murder of his mother took place 32 second after that. A police agency -- he doesn't remember the name-- called the C-4 (State Public Security Complex) to ask whether they needed assistance. The C-4 responded, "No." And the first call for assistance did not issue from the C-4 until 8:04, although it was supposed to be an emergency.
"The Government Palace is an area through which every three minutes a patrol vehicle goes by. I have the videos of the surroundings and not a single (patrol) unit is seen for nine minutes before the murder; that mean that the area was cleared so this man would come. Andy knew nobody would bother him," he states.
He adds: "(Governor) Duarte claims that I am not interested in ending this case because it will affect my request for asylum. No! I want it closed, but with the truth. I want them to arrest Sergio and Andy. They're focused on my mother's case and they have not gone after Sergio so he can pay for my sister's murder.
"The government fabricated a guilty person, that's why I decided to reveal that Andy Barraza is my mother's real murderer. After this information is published, I am holding the government of Chihuahua responsible for whatever happens to me and my family," he warns.
-- What do you think about (the government) presenting a false murderer? --Spector is asked.
-- We provided the evidence so he would be tried in a Mexican court, but that didn't work. It became politically complicated for them. Duarte and Calderon wanted to close the case and they did not want to get into an extradition because Marisela's case is infested with corruption. Her murder is emblematic and they negotiated an agreement with the Zetas and La Linea for them to give up somebody in exchange for leaving them alone. I am sure of that."
"When Juan demanded a copy of the case file, they never provided it, but the day they presented "El Wicked" Duarte said he was available for anybody. It's inconsistent. The arrest is sophisticated blackmail because they didn't arrest a nobody; he (El Wicked) had power."
For the lawyer, it is a shame that Mexican authorities identify and arrest (people) who murder "gringos", but not those who murder thousands and thousands of Mexicans. "Calderon is asking for a position in the University (of Texas) at Austin."
On November 8, the organization Mexicans in Exile will get together with students and professors at that institution "to oppose the coming of a murderer and an incompetent who will never be able to clean the blood off his hands."
"In Mexico, one lives intolerance. A day after Luz Estela Castro, the lawyer who is handling the murder cases of Marisela and Rubi, declared that El Wicked was a fabricated murderer, she received death threats. We had not felt the government's reaction for some time. We're veterans on this issue and we know something really bad is coming down," concludes Spector.