EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – At least 11 bodies have been pulled since late last week from clandestine graves near a Chihuahua state town three hours southwest of Juarez, a newspaper reported.
The graves were found in a farming community near Nuevo Casas Grandes after Mexican federal officials looking into the Nov. 4, 2019, mass murder of nine Americans captured and interrogated an alleged member of La Linea drug cartel, Diario de Juarez reported.
Members of the Mexican federal police, the National Guard, the Navy and the National Commission for the Search of Disappeared Persons conducted the search.
The man identified by his nickname of “El Cholo” allegedly oversaw the burying of dead rivals for La Linea in the northwest Chihuahua corridor that leads to both southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona. The newspaper reported the suspect was taken into custody with a gunshot wound, treated in Juarez and flown to a maximum-security federal prison in Mexico City.
The man’s capture follows the arrest earlier this month in Juarez of Jose Alfredo Lara Ontiveros, the 12th suspect arrested in connection with the killings of the nine Americans.
Three women and six children from the independent Mormon settlement of LeBaron, Chihuahua were gunned down last year while traveling in three vehicles near the Chihuahua-Sonora border. Mexican officials said members of La Linea thought the vehicles were being driven by rivals from a cell of the Sinaloa cartel with whom they’re fighting for control of the corridor.
Border Report reached out to both the state and federal Attorney General’s Office for confirmation of the arrest but was told no official information is available yet. Diario over the past two days has published photos and videos from the general area where bodies were pulled out of the ground.
La Linea — the remnants of the old Juarez cartel — have been at war with Sinaloa cartel enforcer groups since 2004, said Scott Stewart, intelligence analyst and vice president at TorchStone Global, a private security firm with offices in six major U.S. cities.
It’s likely the victims range from members of the Los Salazar and Gente Nueva factions of the Sinaloa cartel to independent street level dealers to just about “anyone else they had a beef with,” Stewart said.
He said the finding was tragic but “I hope it can bring closure to some of the families of the victims.”