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US Targets Mexican Drug Gang


FBI Executive Assistant Director Shawn Henry (r) holds up a wanted poster during a news conference in Washington with Attorney General Eric Holder, March 9, 2011

FBI Executive Assistant Director Shawn Henry (r) holds up a wanted poster during a news conference in Washington with Attorney General Eric Holder, March 9, 2011

U.S. law enforcement officials announced Wednesday that 10 Mexican nationals associated with a notorious criminal gang have been charged in last year's murder of a U.S. consulate employee and two other people in Juarez, Mexico.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and other law enforcement officials at a Washington news conference.

Holder said 35 people with links to the international criminal gang known as "Barrio Azteca" have been charged with various counts of murder, racketeering, drug trafficking and money laundering.

The murder charges stem from last year's killing of a U.S. consulate employee and two other people, when gunmen opened fire in Juarez, Mexico as the victims left a birthday party.

Holder said his office is working with Mexican officials to have those charged in Mexico extradited to the United States.

"Of the 35 defendants, 10 Mexican nationals were charged in last year's murders in Juarez, Mexico, of United States consulate employees Leslie Ann Enriquez Catton, her husband, Arthur Redelfs and Jorge Alberto Salcido Ceniceros, the husband of another United States consulate employee," said Eric Holder. "Seven of the 10 defendants charged with these murders and two other indicted defendants are in custody in Mexico."

Holder said 12 of those arrested were taken into custody on Wednesday by law enforcement agents in Texas and New Mexico.

FBI Executive Assistant Director Shawn Henry says the joint U.S.-Mexico crackdown targets an international criminal organization known for what U.S. officials call its "militaristic command structure."

"This takedown is an important step in disrupting and dismantling one of the most powerful and brutal gangs operating along the U.S.-Mexico border," said Shawn Henry. "As the attorney general noted, the Barrio Azteca gang has transformed from a prison gang to a sophisticated transnational organized criminal enterprise. Its members have committed unspeakable acts of violence, terrorized communities on both sides of the border and murdered the innocent."

Mexico's deputy attorney general was on hand for the announcement at the Justice Department. Despite the ongoing violence along the U.S.-Mexico border, Attorney General Holder said U.S. and Mexican officials are working more effectively than ever in the fight against criminal gangs.

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    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.

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