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FBI to assist Mexican authorities in case of slain El Monte official, Bobby Salcedo

January 25, 2010 |  6:54 pm
Mexican authorities have “confirmed” that El Monte school board member Bobby Salcedo and five other men killed by suspected drug cartel gunmen in central Mexico were innocent victims, U.S. Rep. Judy Chu said Monday.

The San Gabriel Valley Democrat, who has been briefed by Mexican and American government officials, said that the killers left evidence at the scene in Gomez Palacio and that FBI investigators were helping Mexican police.

Chu said that she spoke with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week, and that
Clinton “asked me to pass on not only her condolences to the Salcedo family, but also assurances that she is personally keeping a close eye on the situation.”

Chu said she spoke with the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Carlos Pascual, about the case. He reportedly acknowledged that crimes by drug cartels often go unsolved in states like Durango, but that Salcedo’s case was high profile enough to warrant closer attention and might therefore be solved. 

“But we must maintain the pressure,” said Chu, who stood with Salcedo’s wife, mother, a sister and a brother at a news conference in El Monte. “We have to catch Bobby’s killers.”

The popular, 33-year-old Salcedo, who was also an assistant principal at El Monte High School, was celebrating the holidays in his wife’s hometown last month. He and his wife went to the Iguanas Ranas bar with some friends, when masked gunmen stormed into the business and abducted the men.
Some witnesses said the gunmen came looking for police officers. A senior law enforcement source who was briefed on the investigation but not authorized to speak publicly about it, said the gunmen asked who owned a vehicle outside with Tamaulipas plates, noting that that state has a cartel that is rivals with a cartel in Durango.
Calling Durango “the Wild West,” the source said preliminary investigations suggested that Salcedo and the five other men were killed in a case of mistaken identity. Weeks before the killing, the Gomez Palacio chief of police was executed by suspected cartel hitmen, and a former mayor was kidnapped days later. The mayor was later released.
Struggling not to cry, the educator’s mother, Graciela Salcedo, said she just knew “they killed my son and I’m never going to see him again.”

“I hope President Calderon does something,” she said of the Mexican leader. “I don’t want vengeance. But I do want them to arrest and imprison whoever did this.”

Asked whether she was hopeful that her son’s killers would be caught, his mother quietly said, “I don’t know. They almost never catch them.”

-- Hector Becerra and Robert Lopez.