JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) — A prisoner believed to be behind Juarez’s “Night of Terror” last year and recent attacks against police officers has been transferred to another state, Chihuahua state officials said.
Jesus Eduardo “El Lalo” Soto Rodriguez continued to lead the “Mexicles” drug gang from his cell in Juarez’s Cereso 3 prison despite serving sentences totaling 160 years, Chihuahua Attorney General Cesar Augusto Peniche said.
A small army of 892 police officers and members of Mexico’s National Guard went into the prison around 1 a.m. on Thursday, retrieved Soto and flew him to a federal prison in Chiapas, Mexico, Peniche said.
Mexican officials hope “El Lalo” will no longer be able to direct the gang from the federal facility.
“We have set in place a plan — both inside the prison as well as outside — to prevent reprisals because of the transfer,” Deputy Attorney General Jorge Nava told Border Report. “We believe we’ll see positive results in regard to the homicide rate and the sale and consumption of drugs in Ciudad Juarez.”
The Mexicles have been the lead enforcers for the Sinaloa cartel in Juarez, according to experts, and are linked to numerous murders, kidnappings, extortion and vehicle burnings.
When authorities last Nov. 4 tried to extract “El Lalo” from the Juarez prison last year, the “Mexicles” unleashed two consecutive days of attacks starting on Nov. 5 that led to the deaths of at least a dozen people and the burning of 25 vehicles on city streets, including public transportation buses.
The strategy was similar to one successfully employed in October by the Sinaloa cartel in the western city of Culiacan to force the National Guard to release one of the sons of jailed kingpin Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman.
More than 800 soldiers remained at the Juarez Cereso 3 prison for several weeks but left without their quarry back in November.
Since then, the Mexicles have been linked to more murders and, recently, to a rash of attacks against Juarez police officers, one police station and the bodyguards of Chihuahua Gov. Javier Corral and police Commissioner Oscar Aparicio Avedano.
Asked how authorities plan to prevent the Mexicles from going on another rampage after their leader’s transfer, Nava said police officers would be out in force.
“We are conducting operations in 25 neighborhoods and the jails to prevent acts of violence,” he said.
(Juarez freelance journalist Roberto Delgado contributed to this report)