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Thursday, July 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Director of US Consulate Murders Given Life

EL PASO, Texas - A federal judge imposed a life sentence Friday against the gang lieutenant who ordered the March 2010 murders of a U.S. Consulate employee, her husband and the husband of another Consulate worker.

Arturo Gallegos Castrellon, 35, has at least seven aliases including Benny, Farmero, 51, Guero, Pecas, Tury and 86. He was a lieutenant with the Barrio Azteca, which the Justice Department describes as "a violent street and prison gang that began in the late 1980s and expanded into a transnational criminal organization."

Prosecutors said the gang is allied with the La Linea, part of the Juarez Drug Cartel, which is also known as the Vincente Carrillo Fuentes Drug Cartel.

The Sinaloa Cartel is an enemy of the alliance in the struggle to control the drug trafficking route through Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico.

Known as the Juarez Plaza, this drug route is a principal illicit drug trafficking route into the United States, prosecutors said.

Chihuahua-based Gallegos Castrellon was extradited to the United States in 2012, and a federal jury thereafter found him guilty of six counts of murder and conspiracies to commit racketeering, narcotics trafficking, narcotics importation, murder in a foreign country and money laundering.

The jury had found that Gallegos Castrellon led the gang's teams of assassins, which he helped create and supervised in 2008 through 2010.

"His teams killed up to 800 persons between January and August 2010, reaching a total of nearly 1,600 in a multiyear period," according to a statement from the Justice Department.

On March 13, 2010, Gallegos Castrellon ordered the triple homicide in Ciudad Juarez of U.S. Consulate employee Leslie Enriquez; her husband, Arthur Redelfs; and Jorge Salcido Ceniceros, the husband of another U.S. Consulate employee.

U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone imposed the life sentence against Gallegos Castrellon on Thursday and also ordered him pay $998,840 in restitution and $785,500 in forfeiture.

Gallegos Castrellon had been among 35 defendants charged in the third superseding indictment filed over the 2010 Juarez Consulate murders and other criminal acts.

"Of the 35 defendants charged, 26 have been convicted, one committed suicide before the conclusion of his trial, and two remain fugitives, including Eduardo Ravelo, an FBI Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitive," the Justice Department said.

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