Map locates Sonora state in Mexico, where a deadly gun battle between rival drug and migrant trafficking gangs near the U.S. border occurred.
MEXICO CITY (AP) — A top drug gang enforcer says he ordered the killing of a U.S. consulate worker because she helped provide visas to a rival gang in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, federal police said Friday.
Jesus Ernesto Chavez, whose arrest was announced on Friday, leads a band of hit men for a street gang tied to the Juarez cartel, said Ramon Pequeno, the head of anti-narcotics for the Federal Police.
Pequeno said Chavez ordered the March 13 attack that killed U.S. consulate employee Lesley Enriquez and her husband as they drove through the violent city toward a border crossing to the U.S. Pequeno said Chavez told police that Enriquez was targeted because she helped provide visas to a rival gang.
In March, U.S. federal, state and local law enforcement officers swept through El Paso, picking up suspected members of the gang in an effort to find new leads in the killings.
A suspect detained in Mexico shortly after the shooting confessed to acting as a lookout as the Azteca gang supposedly hunted down Redelfs, but he was never charged and was released without explanation.
Officials also have speculated that both attacks could have been a case of mistaken identity.
Also on Friday, Mexican officials were investigating a gun battle between rival drug and migrant trafficking gangs near Mexico's border with Arizona that left 21 people dead and at least six others wounded.
Sonora state prosecutors say the fire fight on Thursday took place in a sparsely populated area about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the Arizona border, near the city of Nogales. The area is considered a prime corridor for migrant and drug smuggling. All of the victims were believed to be members of the gangs.
Gangs often fight for control of trafficking routes, abducting migrants from each other.
Gang violence near the Arizona border has led to calls from officials in the U.S. state for greater control of the border and is one reason given for a controversial law passed in April requiring Arizona police to ask people about their immigration status in certain situations.