A woman who confessed to ordering the killings of five people last month was among several Sinaloa drug cartel members arrested in the northwestern Mexican state of Baja California, state officials said.
Martha Lizeth Osegueda Rodriguez told investigators following her arrest on Friday night that she ordered the killings of five people on Jan. 28 in the border city of Tijuana.
The 24-year-old suspect ordered the killings to steal drugs from a rival gang that operates in the neighborhoods close to the U.S. border, the Baja California Public Safety Secretariat said.
Osegueda was arrested thanks to an anonymous tip and intelligence work by the state police, the secretariat said.
State police arrested a taxi driver, identified as Erick Arzate Garcia, who had an outstanding warrant for robbery, the secretariat said.
The 28-year-old Arzate told police he worked for Osegueda, who was in charge of drug sales in Tijuana’s Villas de Baja California and Tres de Octubre districts, the secretariat said.
State police went to a house in Villas de Baja California, where they arrested Osegueda and Marco Antonio Lopez Carmona, a 24-year-old suspected Sinaloa cartel gunman, the secretariat said.
Officers seized a firearm and 17 packets of the illegal drug “crystal” from the suspects, as well as cash that apparently came from drug sales, the secretariat said.
Osegueda told investigators she ordered the multiple murders in the Tres de Octubre neighborhood and that Lopez Carmona took part in the killings, the secretariat said.
Osegueda sent the gunmen to kill rival gang members who stole drugs from her after getting authorization from her bosses in the Sinaloa cartel, the secretariat said.
Octavio Leal Uriarte, known as “El Chapito,” was one of the cartel bosses who gave Osegueda the green light to carry out the killings, the secretariat said.
The Sinaloa organization, sometimes referred to by officials as the Pacific cartel, is the oldest and most powerful drug cartel in Mexico.
Cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman, considered extremely violent, is one of the most-wanted criminals in Mexico and the United States, where the Drug Enforcement Administration is offering a reward of $5 million for him.
Guzman, who was born in 1957 in La Tuna, Sinaloa, was arrested in Guatemala in 1993 and pulled off a Hollywood-style jailbreak when he escaped from the Puente Grande maximum-security prison in the western state of Jalisco on Jan. 19, 2001.
Forbes magazine estimates that Guzman has a fortune of more than $1 billion, making him one of the richest people in the world.
The Sinaloa cartel, according to intelligence agencies, is a transnational business empire that operates in the United States, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Americas and Asia.