Published February 19, 2014
The leader of the ruthless cross-border Barrio Azteca gang was found guilty Wednesday in connection to the assassination of two U.S. consulate employees and a Mexican national in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, in 2010.
At the trial in El Paso, Texas, Arturo Gallegos was found guilty on all counts, including five counts of racketeering, narcotics trafficking, narcotics importation, murder in a foreign country and money laundering.
During the trial, jurors were shown evidence that Gallegos Castrellón ordered the March 13, 2010, triple homicide in Juarez, Mexico, of U.S. Consulate employee Leslie Enriquez, her husband Arthur Redelfs, and Jorge Salcido Ceniceros, the husband of another U.S. Consulate employee.
Gallegos was also proven to be the mastermind of the July 15, 2010, car bombing in Ciudad Juárez which targeted Mexican federal police.
Jurors took only two hours to reach the verdict. Gallegos' lawyer, Randolph Ortega, said afterward that he was disappointed with the ruling and surprised at how quickly the jurors returned, considering the court's charge was 100 pages long.
"This was a difficult case. There was a lot of evidence against my client," Ortega said, according the El Paso Times. "We anticipate a sentence of life."
The trial of Gallegos shocked many observes with accounts of the gruesome and violent nature of the Barrio Azteca gang and its counterparts in Mexico.
Testifying at the trial, gang member Jesus Ernesto "Camello" Chávez said that Barrio Azteca sent two teams to the Mexican city of Torreón to train with the Zetas, where among other methods they were taught to kill people traveling inside moving cars.
Formed in the jails of El Paso, Texas in 1986, Barrio Azteca has become one of the largest crime groups in the United States, with a purported 3,000 members in the U.S. in locations such as New Mexico, Texas, Mass., and Penn., and at least 5,000 members in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
Chávez testified that he controlled a group of hit squads that were responsible for killing more than 2,000 people in Juárez in a war between the Carrillo Fuentes organization (aligned with Barrio Azteca) and Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s Sinaloa Cartel.
The admitted hitman also said that he was responsible for killing 800 people in Juárez between January and August of 2009, but that he stopped counting after that. He added that Barrio Azteca hit squads were given a quota of at least eight people per day in Ciudad Juárez.