Mexican Assassins Are Pretty Damn Competent


The sunny, broad intersection of Arizona Street and Boulevard Pope John Paul II abuts the Rio Grande and is a five-minute drive from a main bridge into El Paso. Easily visible across the river was a picket line of U.S. Border Patrol vehicles.

Huerta was riding in the passenger seat of a new silver-colored Dodge Journey SUV with Texas plates, which had stopped at a red light. The car was driven by a secretary at the prosecutor’s office, Marisela Esparza Granados. When García arrived, the splintered windshield wipers on the vehicle were still struggling to operate.

The intersection around the Dodge was littered with spent shells. García and his partner, who carry clipboards but no weapons, methodically photographed the scene and collected 85 casings, all in the caliber consistent with the account some witnesses told police — that two hooded men from two vans pulled in front of the Dodge and opened fire with AK-47s.

The criminologists at the forensic lab were struck by several details. First, they suspected that Huerta was followed by at least one, and perhaps several, chase vehicles, which would have helped the gunmen get into position to ambush Huerta. They knew the car Huerta would use and his route, the investigators said.

Second, the criminologists were impressed with the precision, speed and audacity of the attack.

When it rolled to a stop at the traffic light, Huerta’s vehicle was surrounded by other cars at a crowded intersection. But no other vehicles were hit by stray bullets. Later, Hawley, the lab coordinator, pointed out the tight pattern of gunfire pocking the SUV’s windshield.

“You see they hit where they aim. He was the target. Not her,” Hawley said. The assassins concentrated their fire directly at Huerta, who was not wearing a bulletproof vest. “If they know they’re wearing a bulletproof vest, they ignore the chest and shoot the head,” he added.

The autopsy revealed that Huerta had been struck at least 40 times, most in the chest. The passenger seat of the SUV was soaked with blood. The secretary, Esparza, was struck only three times, though a neck wound was fatal.

In the crime laboratory, the shell casings were examined by the ballistics team and recorded. The bullets are almost always from the United States. The assassins do not trust bullets made in Mexico, Hawley said, adding, “The American bullets are better.”

You’ve just enjoyed a tasty portion of the WASHINGTON POST‘s article on the deadliness of Mexican drug cartel assassins.

Now, American news sources have been gawking at the insane Mexican assassination situation for some time now. Here’s an article from the New York Times about a decade ago that observes the cartel’s penchant for recruiting American assassins, focusing on one top Mexican-American killer:

The hit man, David Barron Corona, 34, led a group of young Hispanic toughs who started in crime by selling marijuana and amphetamines on California street corners, developed a taste for murder in years of drive-by shootings, and after establishing contacts with Mexican traffickers blossomed into a ruthless new breed of cross-border assassin.


Although Mr. Barron’s story is dramatic, he is by no means unique, an American anti-drug agent said. Mexican traffickers have been recruiting gang members in cities all along the 2,000-mile border to work as henchmen in Mexico, he said.

The agent described these gang members as ”hard-core, violence-prone” criminals who speak both English and Spanish and have access to weapons. ”They’ll do anything for money,” the agent said.

”It’s the same thing in El Paso-Juarez,” he added, referring to the metropolitan area that straddles the border between Texas and the Mexican state of Chihuahua. ”They kill on one side of the river and hide on the other. That’s why the border is as much a mirror of what is happening in the United States as it is of Mexico.”


When exactly Mr. Barron made the acquaintance of Ramon Arellano Felix, one of the brothers who control the Tijuana cartel, is not clear. But he appears to have earned Mr. Arellano’s enduring trust in November 1992, when Mr. Arellano was pinned down in the restroom of a disco in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, during an attack by gunmen from a rival drug mafia.

Mr. Barron helped Mr. Arellano escape through the disco’s air-conditioning ducts, American officials said.

After that experience, Mr. Arellano assigned Mr. Barron to recruit cartel gunmen from among gang associates in San Diego, according to a United States prosecutor who discussed Mr. Barron in a 1995 interview.

”When the traffickers wanted to send hit squads into Mexico, Barron would assemble the group and dispatch them to their targets,” the prosecutor said. The gang members were paid weekly retainers and given bonuses of thousands of dollars for specific jobs, the prosecutor said.

Mr. Barron recruited gang members for an attack on one of the Arellanos’ rivals in May 1993. That operation degenerated into a furious firefight at the Guadalajara airport and left a Roman Catholic Cardinal dead in the crossfire, said Alejandro Hodoyan, an Arellano lieutenant who was arrested last year and described the workings of the cartel to Mexican investigators.

Well, that guy might SOUND like a masta killa, but look how things turned out for him:


Accidentally capped in the eye by his own hit squad. And the target got away. We’re not impressed.

Well, unfortunately the Mexican cartel killers have evolved quite a bit from the David Barron days:

In Mexico’s chaotic drug war, attacks are no longer the work of desperate amateurs with bad aim. Increasingly, the killings are being carried out by professionals, often hooded and gloved, who trap their targets in coordinated ambushes, strike with overwhelming firepower, and then vanish into the afternoon rush hour — just as they did in the Huerta killing.

The paid assassins, known as sicarios, are rarely apprehended. Mexican officials say the commando squads probably travel from state to state, across a country where the government and its security forces are drawing alarming conclusions about the scope and skill of an enemy supported by billions of dollars in drug profits.

“They are getting very good at their jobs,” said Hector Hawley Morelos, coordinator of the state forensics and crime laboratory here, where criminologists and coroners have been overwhelmed by more than 1,600 homicides in Juarez this year. “The assassins show a high level of sophistication. They have had training — somewhere. They appear to have knowledge of police investigative procedures. For instance, they don’t leave fingerprints. That is very disturbing.”


In the Juarez morgue, the three walk-in freezers are filled to capacity with more than 90 corpses, stacked floor to ceiling, in leaking white bags with zippers. After a few months, those who are not identified are buried in a field at the city cemetery at the edge of the desert.

“The patterns that we often see with organized crime homicides are high-caliber weapons, multiple wounds, extreme trauma,” said Alma Rosa Padilla, a chief medical examiner, who completes as many as five full autopsies each day. “They don’t go to the hospital.”

OK, that’s terrifying.

As the WAPO article points out, there are a lot of former army and police members defecting to the dark side all the time, bringing their expertise along with them.

Dude. That’s like Lieutenant Daniels’ Major Case Squad joining forces with the Marlo Stanfield crew to take out Tommy Carcetti, Scott Templeton and Julian Bond.

Well, like that, except in real life and not cool. Also, Mexican.

[NEXT IN THIS SERIES: “Tijuana’s Pozolero is One Cold Sumbitch”]

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