1 Aug 2011

Mexican drug trafficker wanted for 1,500 murders arrested

Police in Mexico have arrested a high-level member one of the country’s most notorious drug cartels, who is suspected of ordering at least 1,500 murders.

Jose Antonio Acosta Hernandez - Reuters

The Juarez cartel’s Jose Antonio Acosta Hernandez, also known as ‘El Diego’, was one of the most-wanted men in Mexico and had a reward of 15 million pesos (£782,000) on his head.

Acosta confessed to “the murders of approximately 1,500 people,” including “police officers from the three levels of government, officials, members of rival groups (and) members of his own organization who had lost his trust,” as well as other people who were killed “by mistake, thinking they were members of the Pacific cartel,” the Mexican Public Safety Secretariat said.

He is reputed to be one of the bosses of the La Linea gang, a group formed by renegade security officers in the northern state of Chihuahua, to act as enforcers for the Ciudad Juarez-based cartel.

The secretariat said Acosta was behind a car bomb detonated by cell phone that killed four people in the city in July last year, the first attack of its kind in Mexico’s deadly drug war.

Acosta confessed that he ordered a car bombing targeting police in retaliation for the arrest of one of his close associates.

Read more: Searching for the missing in Mexico's drug wars

It is also reported that Acosta was behind the March 2010 killings of three people linked to the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, located across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas

Jesus Antonio Mancinas, 33, suspected of being Acosta’s security chief, was also arrested in the operation.

Acosta’s arrest comes after Mexican police delivered what it said was a fatal blow to the notorious La Familia drug cartel, with the capture of ringleader Jose de Jesus Mendez, aka The Monkey, in June.

The Juarez cartel, one of Mexico’s most violent criminal organizations, is waging a war against the Sinaloa cartel that has left about 9,000 people dead in the past five years.

Some 40, 000 people have lost their lives since President Felipe Calderon sent the army to fight the drugs cartels in late 2006.