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Drug gang hit man narrates assassination of prosecutor in Mexico

July 13, 2010 | 11:38 am

Sicario juarez 1

In an unusually frank and chilling video confession, a drug gang sicario, or hit man, in Ciudad Juarez narrates his participation in the June 30 assassination of a top official (link in Spanish). Sandra Ivonne Salas Garcia, 38, an internal affairs prosecutor in Chihuahua state, was slain in a roadside attack that also killed one of her bodyguards. Published by El Universal (watch it here in Spanish, or here via YouTube), the video was released to Mexican news outlets by the Federal Police after Cristian "El Cris" Rosado Mendoza, the hit man pictured above, was taken into custody July 5 (link in Spanish).

Speaking calmly and almost matter-of-factly, Rosado admits to being a member of La Linea, a binational gang known as the enforcement arm of the Juarez cartel. He explains how he and a crew of gunmen carried out orders to kill Salas. Here's a rough transcript of the first part of the clip:

Hit man: They call me 'El Cris.'

Interrogator: What do you do for a living?

H: I am a hit man.

I: What group do you work for?

H: For La Linea.

I: How much are you paid a week for this work?

H: Two thousand pesos a week. Sometimes we work every day, but not every day we have to execute a person. Sometimes the partners with heavier weapons get there first and we get there later, to clean up their exit, as they're leaving the event.

I: Why were you [incarcerated]?

H: For attempted robbery and a detention order.

I: And why were you jailed in the U.S., tell me?

H: For taking marijuana across the river. ... On June 30, we got the call to go kill the sub-prosecutor. We'd been told she was looking into internal matters of people [jailed]. A person inside who was with her, a person close to her, called us and told us that at certain hours she would be leaving, at 3:30 in the afternoon. She was going to leave to get food, so we could identify the type of vehicle she'd be in. We're not sure if it was a bodyguard of hers, or someone more close to her inside the department. So, at 3:30, we arrived to watch her. ...

Rosada goes on to talk about how Salas' vehicle was followed until the hit men found the right moment to begin shooting. He then explains how a bodyguard emerged from the damaged vehicles after the attack, and that the bodyguard was picked up by an unmarked silver-colored vehicle, indicating, according to "El Cris," that the man was the likely internal informant on Salas' movements. But he adds that he is not sure.

In The Times, Ken Ellingwood revisits the question of whether military- or civilian-led enforcement efforts are more effective in curbing the narcotics-related violence that currently grips Ciudad Juarez. "So far," he writes, "the results have been mixed."

The Chihuahua state human rights ombudsman, Gustavo de la Rosa, tells Ellingwood that the Calderon government appears willing to allow the two major warring groups in the border city, the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels, to "slaughter each other."

"They changed the actors, but the play is the same," de la Rosa said.

-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City

Image credit: El Universal TV

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