March 17th, 2009 10:20 EST
Authorities Discover 9 Bodies in Mexican City Straddling U.S. Border
Following on a lead from an informant, police stumbled on the remains of nine bodies partially exhumed in the desert just outside of Cuidad Juarez, a city nestled near the U.S.-Mexico border on Saturday. With the discovery, authorities also notified the press that they had arrested the alleged ringleader of a drug cartel murder squad. After clearing up the mass grave, officers scoured around the burial site located just south of the city`s limits for any more bodies.
An official working in the state prosecutor`s office, who insisted that his name remain anonymous according to departmental policy, divulged that a police officer`s badge had been found amongst the remains that haven`t yet been identified. Investigators are currently in the process of identifying the dead, though the respective genders of the deceased have already been verified.
Enrique Torres Valadez, a security official for the state police, announced that of the nine bodies found so far, seven were male and two were female.
"One was handcuffed, all were tortured," he informed. "They had been there for days or maybe weeks."
This incident in the ongoing war against the drug cartels in Mexico comes as the city expects another 1,500 troops to reinforce the 2,150 already stationed within Cuidad Juarez. The Mexican Army detachments were sent as defense against the gunmen seemingly overrunning the blighted city. Mexican drug cartels are responsible for the skyrocketing murder rates in the last year in and around the city.
Ciudad Juarez, a city of 1.3 million residents, had once been a tourist attraction right across the U.S. border from El Paso, Texas. But with violent crime an occurrence on every street in the city, tourists are shying away from the natural beauty that made the city famous.
El Paso South isn`t only Mexican city in the region wrestling cocaine-driven violence. Reynosa, a city east of Ciudad Juarez, is embattled with the same deadly element. On Saturday, federal police proclaimed that they arrested a man suspected of heading operations in the city for the infamous Zetas, a coalition of paid killers employed by the Gulf drug cartel.
The man in custody, Sergio Pena Mendoza, has also been implicated as an accessory in a recent thwarted attempt to free a fellow Zetas leader from a Guatemalan prison. Authorities in Mexico City have substantial evidence linking Pena Mendoza with the failed jailbreak in addition to the murders of a police officer and a prominent businessman in southern Mexico.
The detainee was apprehended after he tried to escape a police dragnet in a stolen pickup truck with Texas plates. When he was finally stopped, police confiscated an assault rifle in the truck`s cab.
Interim Federal Police Commissioner Rodrigo Esparza claimed that Pena Mendoza rose to the same rank of leader of the Zetas as his predecessor, Jaime Gonzalez Duran. Known as "The Hummer" Gonzalez Duran was a founding member of the syndicate before he was captured in November of last year.
In response to a barrage of questions from reporters as he was hauled into the Mexico City police department, Mr. Pena Mendoza denied the authorities` allegations.
According to a report released by the Jalisco state prosecutor`s office, a man tossed a hand grenade at police officers in the southwestern city of Guadalajara earlier on Saturday. The report affirmed that no injuries resulted from the ensuing explosion. Media sources within the city clarified that since the projectile landed in an unpopulated parking lot, no one was harmed. Police quickly detained the individual and upon a search of the suspect`s home they found 14 more grenades and 10 assault weapons.