Barrio Azteca Gang Member Extradited from Mexico to the United States to Face Charges Related to U.S. Consulate Murders in Juarez, Mexico
WASHINGTON –Miguel Angel Nevarez, aka “Lentes” and “94,” a member of the Barrio Azteca (BA) gang, has been extradited to the United States from Mexico to face a variety of charges including those related to his alleged participation in the March 13, 2010, murders of three individuals with ties to the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney John Murphy of the Western District of Texas, Assistant Director Kevin Perkins of the FBI and Administrator Michele M. Leonhart of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Nevarez, 30, arrived in the United States yesterday and made his initial appearance today before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the Western District of Texas (El Paso Division). Nevarez had been in the custody of Mexican authorities pending extradition since his arrest on Oct. 30, 2010.
On March 2, 2011, Nevarez and 34 co-defendants were charged in an a third superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury in El Paso with conspiracy to commit racketeering, drug distribution, drug importation and money laundering. The indictment also charges Nevarez with conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country, murder in aid of racketeering activity and federal firearm charges, based on the March 13, 2010, murders in Juarez, Mexico, of U.S. Consulate employee Leslie Ann Enriquez Catton, her husband Arthur Redelfs and Jorge Alberto Salcido Ceniceros, the husband of a U.S. Consulate employee.
The Department of Justice expresses its gratitude and appreciation to the government of Mexico for its cooperation and assistance in the apprehension and extradition of Nevarez.
“Mr. Nevarez is charged with participating in the senseless murders of three individuals with ties to the U.S. consulate in Ciudad Juarez,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “Today’s extradition is a sign of the sustained commitment of the Justice Department and our Mexican law enforcement partners to seeing justice served, and to ending the cycle of violence that gangs like Barrio Azteca cause on both sides of the border.”
“The extradition of Nevarez is another big step in our efforts to bring to justice those accused of the murders of Ms. Enriquez, her husband Mr. Redelfs, and Mr. Salcido,” stated U.S. Attorney Murphy. “According to the indictment, these wanton acts of violence were part of a pattern and practice of the Barrio Azteca which engaged in scores of murders in furtherance of their racketeering enterprise. We appreciate all of the assistance provided by the government of Mexico during the investigation and prosecution of this case. We will vigorously pursue prosecution of all of the defendants named in this indictment and look forward to the continuing cooperation of our partners in Mexico.”
“ The FBI appreciates the continued cooperation of our counterparts in Mexico in this endeavor to bring justice for the families who lost loved ones,” said FBI Assistant Director Perkins. “Working with our local, state, federal, and international law enforcement partners is an important and effective way to combat the violence perpetrated by organized criminal enterprises, and individuals such as Mr. Nevarez.”
“DEA has and will continue to pursue the Barrio Azteca Gang, which is responsible for ruthless violence in Mexico and the United States,” said DEA Administrator Leonhart. “Miguel Angel Nevarez now faces justice in America for his alleged crimes, including his role in the senseless murders of U.S. citizens and those who protect and serve our country. Nevarez’s extradition demonstrates our strong partnership with the government of Mexico and our shared commitment to combat drug trafficking while protecting citizens on both sides of the border.”
According to the indictment, Nevarez was a member or associate of the Barrio Azteca criminal enterprise, which began in the late 1980s as a violent prison gang and has expanded into a transnational criminal organization. The BA is primarily based in West Texas; Juarez, Mexico; and throughout state and federal prisons in the United States and Mexico. The gang has a militaristic command structure and includes captains, lieutenants, sergeants and soldiers – all with the purpose of maintaining power and enriching its members and associates through drug trafficking, money laundering, extortion, intimidation, violence, threats of violence and murder.
To increase its power and influence, the indictment alleges that the BA formed an alliance with the Vicente Carrillo-Fuentes (VCF) drug trafficking organization in Mexico. As part of this alliance, the BA conducts enforcement operations against VCF rivals and the VCF provides illegal drugs to the BA at discounted prices.
The indictment alleges a variety of criminal acts committed by members and associates of the BA since Jan. 1, 2003, including drug trafficking, extortion, money laundering, kidnapping and murder.
All but four of the 35 individuals charged in the third superseding indictment are currently in custody in the United States or Mexico. Eduardo Ravelo aka “Tablas,” Luis Mendez aka “Alex,” April Cardoza and Yolanda Barba Chavira aka “Yoli” are currently at large. The United States has filed provisional arrest warrants with the government of Mexico for the arrest of Ravelo and Mendez in connection with this case. Ravelo is currently one of the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitives, and the FBI is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading directly to his arrest.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
If convicted, Nevarez faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Joseph A. Cooley from the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Brian Skaret of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and attorneys from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in the extradition. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico also provided assistance in this case, which was investigated by the FBI and DEA.