El Diego, Accused of Killing 1500, Captured in Mexico

By Will Godfrey 08/01/11

A man believed to be one of the Juarez cartel's most notorious enforcers has been arrested south of the border.

Killing machine Photo via

Mexican police say a man they arrested as a suspected leader of the Juarez cartel—an organization based in Mexico's most violent city that controls major drug smuggling routes across the US border—has admitted ordering over 1,500 killings in Chihuahua state. Jose Antonia Acosta Hernandez, 33—a former police officer better known as "El Diego"—is believed to have run "La Linea," a muderous gang that operates as the cartel's enforcement wing. He is blamed for a catalog of crimes, including a car bombing and the massacre of 15 people—mostly teenagers—at a party in Ciudad Juarez last year. Other alleged victims include police officers, government officials, rival gangsters and civilians. He is wanted in the States in connection with the murder of US consulate employee Lesley Enriquez, 35, who was pregnant when she was gunned down alongside her American husband as they left another Ciudad Juarez party in 2010. Edouardo Pequeno, head of the Mexican federal police anti-drug unit, said El Diego also ordered the hanging of banners threatening the DEA—which collaborated in the operation leading to his arrest—and other US agencies. A reward of 15 million Mexican pesos ($1.3 million) was on offer for information leading to his capture. El Diego was paraded in front of the media yesterday, following his arrest on Friday. Mexican President Felipe Calderon tweeted that the capture was "the biggest blow" to organized crime in Ciudad Juarez since he sent 5,000 troops to the city last April. 

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Will Godfrey is the former editor-in-chief of TheFix. He was also the founding editor-in-chief of Substance.com, and previously co-founded a magazine for prisoners in London. His work has appeared in Salon, Pacific Standard, AlterNet and The Nation among others. He is currently the Executive Director at FILTER. You can find Will on Linkedin and Twitter.