The Barrio Azteca gunmen directly responsible for the March 2010 murders in Juarez, Mexico of a U.S. Consulate employee, her husband, and the husband of another U.S. Consulate employee were sentenced to life in prison today.
“The gunmen who viciously shot and killed Leslie Enriquez, Arthur Redelfs, and Jorge Salcido Ceniceros will now deservedly spend the rest of their lives in prison,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “This prosecution demonstrates the Department’s commitment to combating violent transnational criminal organizations and holding accountable those who may harm Americans, whether at home or abroad. I want to thank the Mexican Government for its cooperation that helped lead to this just result, including extraditing both defendants to the United States to be prosecuted for their heinous crimes.”
On Feb. 3, Jose Guadalupe Diaz Diaz, aka Zorro, 43, of Chihuahua, Mexico, and Martin Artin Perez Marrufo, aka Popeye, 54, also of Chihuahua, were found guilty of all 11 counts after a 13-day jury trial in the Western District of Texas, El Paso Division. The jury found Diaz and Marrufo guilty of conspiracy to commit racketeering, narcotics trafficking, narcotics importation, money laundering, and murder in a foreign country; three counts of murder in aid of racketeering; and three counts of murder resulting from the use and carrying of firearms during and in relation to drug trafficking.
“The victims in this case were coming from a child’s birthday party when they were misidentified as targets by members of Barrio Azteca and gunned down in a senseless act of violence,” said U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff for the Western District of Texas. “I am incredibly proud of the work our office and our law enforcement partners, including international law enforcement, have done to bring some sense of justice to the victims’ families.”
Evidence presented at trial demonstrated that on March 13, 2010, Diaz and Marrufo served as gunmen on the hit teams that murdered U.S. Consulate employee Leslie Enriquez, her husband, Arthur Redelfs, and Jorge Salcido Ceniceros, the husband of another U.S. Consulate employee. The victims were targeted by the hit teams after leaving a child’s birthday party in Juarez because they were mistaken initially for rival gang members. Diaz shot and killed Enriquez and Redelfs. Marrufo shot and killed Ceniceros.
The defendants were sentenced to life in prison on 10 counts and 240 months of imprisonment on the remaining count. Three of the life in prison sentences will run consecutive to the sentences imposed on all other counts. Both defendants were also sentenced to five years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution.
“Today’s sentencing demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to fighting the senseless violence that transnational criminal organizations continue to inflict on the American people, wherever they reside,” said Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “It was important that justice be served, not only for the victims, Leslie Enriquez, Arthur Redelfs, and Jorge Salcido Ceniceros, but also their families. The FBI appreciates the collaborative efforts of our local, state, federal, and international law enforcement partners in ensuring all those responsible were held accountable.”
“Today’s sentencing serves as a testament to DEA’s commitment, alongside our law enforcement partners, to bring to justice those responsible for the heartbreaking murder of innocent members of our U.S. mission abroad,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “The men and women of the DEA will stop at nothing to pursue those that use violence and intimidation to further drug trafficking schemes.”
As proven at trial, Barrio Azteca is a transnational criminal organization engaged in, among other things, money laundering, racketeering, and drug-related activities in El Paso, Texas, among other places. The gang allied with other drug gangs to battle the Sinaloa Cartel, at the time headed by Joaquín “Chapo” Guzman, and its allies for control of the drug trafficking routes through Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. The drug routes through Juarez, known as the Juarez Plaza, are important to drug trafficking organizations because it is a principal illicit drug trafficking route into the United States.
A total of 35 defendants were charged in the third superseding indictment and are alleged to have committed various criminal acts, including the 2010 Juarez Consulate murders in Juarez, Mexico, as well as racketeering, narcotics distribution and importation, retaliation against persons providing information to U.S. law enforcement, extortion, money laundering, murder, and obstruction of justice. Of the 35 defendants charged, all have been apprehended. Of those apprehended, 28 have pleaded guilty, three (including Diaz and Maruffo) have been convicted by a jury following trial, one committed suicide before the conclusion of his trial, and three are awaiting extradition from Mexico.
Diaz was extradited from Mexico on Nov. 13, 2019, and Maruffo was extradited from Mexico on Jan. 18, 2020. The extraditions were the result of close coordination between U.S. and Mexican law enforcement authorities, who have cooperated in the investigation and prosecution of this case.
Acting Deputy Chief Jay Bauer of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, Trial Attorney Christina Taylor of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Spitzer for the Western District of Texas are prosecuting the case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and Office of Enforcement Operations provided significant assistance in this case.
The FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force located at the Texas Anti-Gang Center in El Paso, FBI Albuquerque Field Office, DEA Juarez, and DEA El Paso investigated the case. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the U.S. Marshals Service; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Federal Bureau of Prisons; U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service; Texas Department of Public Safety; Texas Department of Criminal Justice; El Paso Police Department; El Paso County Sheriff’s Office; El Paso Independent School District Police Department; Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission; New Mexico State Police; Dona Ana County, New Mexico, Sheriff’s Office; Las Cruces, New Mexico, Police Department; Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility; and Otero County Prison Facility New Mexico provided valuable assistance.