Juarez police link drug gang to migrant smuggling

Border Crime

Eight members of 'Mexicles' cartel busted in separate human trafficking cases

JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) — A criminal gang linked to drug-related killings in a rural Juarez suburb is now being investigated for trafficking Central and South American migrants.

On Monday, Juarez police arrested a man only identified as “Adrian” on bribery charges, after he allegedly offered two officers $100 and 500 pesos ($27) for releasing an Ecuadorian migrant they found wandering on a street shirtless and disoriented. Adrian met the officers on a street in the San Isidro neighborhood of Juarez, near the Rio Grande, as they were questioning the Ecuadorian, police said.

The migrant told the officers he was being held in a home along with 12 other foreigners and that he went out to try to find a store and buy something to eat. “Adrian,” 22, who failed to persuade the officers to release the migrant, was arrested and later identified himself as a member of the “Mexicles” gang, the municipal police said in a statement. The whereabouts of the other migrants remain under investigation.

On Aug. 5, Juarez police had stopped a convoy of three SUV vehicles along the Casas Grandes Highway that had tried to speed away from a patrol car. The pursuing officer radioed for help and several police cars finally stopped the vehicles: a white Buick Enclave, a green Nissan Armada and a black Chevrolet Equinox. The suspects surrendered when cornered and Juarez police found three guns — a .45-caliber pistol and two 9mm semiautomatic guns — ammunition and four Central American migrants in the vehicles, police said in a statement. The occupants of the Nissan Armada, the lead vehicle, allegedly offered the officers $250 to let them go and identified themselves as members of the Mexicles gang.

Police took six men an a woman into custody. One of them, José Juan Z. C., also known as “El Seco” (The Dry One), has a prior arrest record for drug trafficking, kidnapping, attempted murder, robbery and corruption of minors, police said.

The Mexicles in June were identified as one of the warring factions in a bloody two-day murder spree in the Juarez rural suburb of Guadalupe. According to the Chihuahua state police, the bodies of at least three people were dismembered, with some parts being placed inside coolers and others strewn about the Juarez-Porvenir Highway on June 13. That investigation also remains ongoing, authorities said.

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