An unsigned article in Diario appeared this week containing information provided in confessions by some of the seven members of La Linea (the term most commonly used in referring to the Juárez cartel) arrested by the armed forces earlier this month. At the time of the arrest authorities accused the group of 36 homicides, but as of recently the formal accusations are for only three assassinations.
The confessions were rendered to officials of the Chihuahua state prosecutor working inside the military installation associated with Joint Operation Chihuahua. In the language of the Diario writer "the evidenciary value (of these confessions) was questioned during judicial hearings, because the persons rendering the confessions showed signs of violence, and because the confessions were not videotaped."
According to the confessions, the squads of assassins are organized in groups of five to eight members. One is in charge of weapons maintenance, another is in charge of locating the victim, while another is simply a chauffeur. One or more, known as "hawks," are lookouts at the targeted location for the attack. One or more pull the triggers. The most common practice is to shoot from a stolen automobile, if the target is on the street, or as the target leaves his home.
The five groups of assassins are (or were?) organized by city sector, apparently using the same designations as the city police stations: Aldama, Chihuahua, Cuauhtemoc, Babicora, and Delicias. Each group must restrict assassinations to its own district. A group will receive orders on a telephone. The chief of the squad may have a nickname or a number; no one knows his real name. "He receives orders from Number Two and Number Eleven, whose names I don't know," according to a statement signed by Juan Antonio Munoz Ceniceros, one of the accused, referring to his boss, known as Number Nine, or The Dog, or The Arquitect.
The confession of Jesus Antonio Romero Cigala, a.k.a. El Kalimba, states that he entered the organization through a neighbor who recruited him. On his first killing, he states, "I went to a Del Rio (one of many popular convenience stores by that name) with Estrella in a Blazer. It was on Riveras del Bravo stage 9. We already knew who he (the victim) was and where he would be. When we arrived (the victim) was standing there, with suspenders and black pants. He thought we were going to provide cocaine for him (presumably he was a drug retailer working for a rival organization). Estrella told me to get down from the Blazer. I had a 40 caliber. I hit him five times. Later we went to a safe-house and stayed there for the rest of the day. Later on I realized this was the way I was going to make a living."
The confession of Juan Francisco Costa Barron, alias "El Guero:" "The criminal organization I belong to pays me at different places, shopping centers, like Soriana (a popular group of stores something like Walmart) or a billiards hall. Someone called Number Two gives us weapons and vehicles for us to use." Costa Barron states he started out as a "hawk," in charge of making sure the streets are safe for the hit, without police or military units nearby. Later he was promoted to being a trigger man. According to the confessions the men were paid about $2000-$3000 pesos (about $150-$230 US) per week.
Jesus Romero Cigala (El Kalimba), Jose Luis Prieto Chacon (El Pelon), and Juan Antonio Munoz Ceniceros (El Guero, or El Cuatro), are accused of the homicide of Ramon Montoya Sanchez, 50 years old, murdered outside a grocery store.
Edgar Ivan Martinez Chavez, (El Diez) and Juan Antonio Chavira Vaquera (El Casper), are accused of killing Fabian Martinez Martinez, killed outside his home in Col. Juarez Nuevo on August 3.
Sergio Leonel Castro Rivera (El Goku), and Juand Francisco Costa Barron (El Guero) are accused of killing a municipal police officer.