JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) – Local law enforcement officials reacted surprised after a Mexican federal judge dismissed organized crime charges against the reputed leader of a major Juarez drug gang.

“This draws our attention because, from our perspective, he is a person associated with organized crime. It draws our attention that this is the second time he is judged by a federal authority and is quickly absolved,” Chihuahua Attorney General Cesar Augusto Peniche told reporters on Tuesday.

He was referring to Gerardo Santana Garza, a.k.a. “El 300,” a reputed member of Barrio Azteca who went on to lead La Empresa prior to his arrest in 2018. Santana allegedly continued to have influence in the Juarez drug trafficking scene prior to his transfer to a federal facility earlier this year.

Santana was brought back to Juarez earlier this month for his federal trial on organized criminal activities. Peniche said a federal district judge “absolved” Santana last Friday.

Gerardo Santana Garzza, a.k.a. “300” (photo courtesy State of Chihuahua)

State police officials this summer publicly complained that one of the reasons they can’t eradicate organized criminal activity in Juarez is that federal officials refuse to prosecute drug traffickers. The state police continues to arrest gang members on state charges, such as murder, kidnapping or extorsion.

Peniche said Santana will remain behind bars because he still faces state kidnapping and homicide charges. “He is still detained,” the state official said.

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