JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) — Chihuahua state authorities say they’ll request an arrest warrant against one of the alleged drug-cartel hitmen who murdered a man and three young girls Sunday at a ranch in southeast Juarez.
“Today we have made important advances (in the investigation). Later today we’ll be in a position to request the first arrest warrant. One person has already been identified … we have sketches, we have seized (evidence),” said Chihuahua Deputy Attorney General Jorge Nava on Friday. He declined to name the suspect.
The victims of the shooting were Rafael Gordillo, 25, as well as Arleth, Lindsay and Sherline Sanchez Gordillo — ages 4, 13 and 14, respectively. They were shot at more than 100 times with an assault rifle and other weapons. The girls died at a Juarez hospital from the gunshot wounds.
The suspect, whom Nava characterized as a member of a drug cartel “cell” in an area south of Socorro, Texas known as the Juarez Valley, is also believed to be linked to the abduction of an El Paso resident who was on the ranch at the time of the killings. Juarez authorities identified the man as Jose Francisco Quezada Espinoza and said they’ve requested the assistance of the FBI in El Paso regarding that portion of the case.
“They are providing information and intelligence, primarily,” the Deputy Attorney General said.
Nava added that a search is ongoing to locate Quezada, whom the police official said has no prior criminal record and frequented the ranch.
Nava said the attack on the ranch was retaliation for the murder of a reputed drug trafficker known by his alias of “El Dengue” last Saturday.
“This all has to do with the violence generated for control of the (drug) corridor in that area,” he said.
Initially, authorities believed the assailants belonged to the “Mexicles”, a drug- and migrant-smuggling gang. But after the “Mexicles” hung banners from Juarez overpasses and sent a communique denying responsibility and threatening to go to war with police, Mexican authorities stopped associating the group with the attack. On Friday, state authorities were refocusing their investigation on another gang, known as “Los Mojados,” or “The Wetbacks.”
Nava contradicted press reports stating that people inside the ranch actually started the shooting, although he said a gun was recovered from inside the property and guns parts and camouflage clothing was found buried in a hole.
Nava said the drug trafficking cell under investigation is “not very large,” but has links to larger organized crime groups.