Two arrested over Mexican drug gang

Hugh Macleod
Wednesday 18 February 2004 01:00

Mexican police have arrested two men believed to have links to one of the country's largest drug smuggling gangs, following an investigation into the discovery of 12 bodies buried beneath a house in the northern border town of Ciudad Juarez last month.

Federal investigators said that the two people were believed to have links to a gang led by Humberto Santillan Tabares, one of the successors to Amado Carrillo-Fuentes's massive drug-smuggling operation. Mr Tabares was arrested across the border in El Paso last month, but his gang remains one of the key links to the drug trafficking trade from Mexico to the US.

Investigators have been digging beneath three properties in Ciudad Juarez, reportedly on a tip-off from a man who had rented one of the houses and told them the killings were ordered by Mr Tabares. The houses have been linked to a fugitive Mexican state police commander implicated in the murders, and federal officers also detained 13 Chihuahua state policemen for questioning.

Ciudad Juarez is notorious for lawlessness. Earlier this week, grieving mothers and local activists, accompanied by Jane Fonda, led a march through the city to draw attention to the serial murders and disappearances of young women.

More than 250 women have been killed, a third of them also sexually assaulted, in the bleak desert town over the past decade. Only one man has been convicted, for one of the killings, and the Mexican National Human Rights Commission has condemned police negligence and denounced a lack of political will to solve the murders.

Last month President Vincente Fox appointed a special prosecutor to look into the deaths, raising the investigation to a federal level.

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