Mexico Captures Alleged Leader Behind U.S. Consulate Killings

Mexico has captured Jose Antonio Acosta Hernandez, the alleged leader of a gang called La Linea who federal police say was behind the killing last year of three people with ties to the U.S. consulate.

Acosta Hernandez, known as “El Diego,” helped the Juarez drug cartel in its fight with the Pacific cartel for control of Ciudad Juarez, said Ramon Pequeno, head of the anti-drug unit of the federal police yesterday.

Drug gangs and their allies have made Ciudad Juarez, which sits across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, one of the world’s most violent cities as they battle for lucrative shipment routes to the U.S. market.

Federal police said in a statement yesterday that Acosta Hernandez was captured in the northern city of Chihuahua on July 29. Further details weren’t available. La Linea works as enforcers for the Juarez cartel, according to the police.

Acosta Hernandez admits to ordering about 1,500 killings in the state of Chihuahua, according to the police statement. The government was offering a 15 million peso ($1.3 million) reward for his capture. Police have said the Juarez cartel is led by Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, or “El Viceroy,” who remains at large.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon said yesterday on his Twitter account that the arrest was the biggest victory yet in his bid to curb violence in the border city.

U.S. Intelligence

Police also seized weapons in the operation and captured a man they said worked as a security guard for Acosta Hernandez.

Pequeno, speaking from Mexico City in remarks broadcast on Milenio television, said Acosta Hernandez was the “presumed intellectual author” behind the three slayings connected to the U.S. consulate in Juarez in March 2010.

Consulate worker Lesley Enriquez and her husband, Arthur Redelfs, were gunned down in Juarez as they left a birthday party in the northern Mexican city. Jorge Alberto Salcido, who was married to a Mexican employee of the consulate, was also killed by gunmen after leaving the same party.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration intelligence aided police in Acosta Hernandez’s capture, Pequeno said.

The Pacific cartel, also known as the Sinaloa cartel, is headed by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, police have said. Guzman was named by Forbes magazine in March as one of the world’s richest people with a net worth of more than $1 billion.

Mexico has had more than 35,000 organized crime-related deaths since Calderon took office in December 2006 and deployed soldiers to combat drug gangs.

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