Sus­pect’s claim that slain U.S. worker helped gang is non­sense, of­fi­cial says

Austin American-Statesman - - WORLD & NATION -

MEX­ICO CITY — The drug car­tel en­forcer told an un­set­tling story, po­lice say: A woman who worked in the Mex­i­can border area’s biggest U.S. con­sulate had helped a ri­val gang ob­tain U.S. visas. For that, he claims to have or­dered her killed, po­lice say.

Non­sense, says a U.S. of­fi­cial, who said Fri­day that the mo­tive for the slay­ing re­mains un­known.

The em­ployee, Les­ley En­riquez, and two other peo­ple con­nected to the U.S. con­sulate in Juárez were killed March 13 in attacks that raised con­cerns that Amer­i­cans were be­ing caught up in drug-re­lated vi­o­lence.

Amid those wor­ries, the State Depart­ment an­nounced new travel re­stric­tions Fri­day for U.S. govern­ment em­ploy­ees work­ing away from the border in Mex­ico and Cen­tral Amer­ica. As of July 15, they and their fam­i­lies are barred from cross­ing any­where along Texas’ border, north or

has con­fessed, po­lice say. south, be­cause of safety con­cerns.

Je­sus Ernesto Chavez, whose ar­rest was an­nounced Fri­day, con­fessed to or­der­ing the killings, said Ra­mon Pe­queno, the anti-nar­cotics chief for the Fed­eral Po­lice. He said Chavez leads a band of hit men for a street gang tied to the Juárez car­tel.

Pe­queno said Chavez told po­lice that En­riquez was tar­geted be­cause she helped pro­vide visas to a ri­val gang. But a U.S. of­fi­cial fa­mil­iar with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion said Fri­day on con­di­tion of anonymity that af­ter the killings, U.S. of­fi­cials in­ves­ti­gated pos­si­ble cor­rup­tion in­volv­ing En­riquez and found none.

U.S. Em­bassy of­fi­cials have said that En­riquez was never in a po­si­tion to pro­vide visas and worked in a sec­tion that of­fers ba­sic ser­vices to U.S. cit­i­zens in Mex­ico.

More­over, an­other ar­rested sus­pect has said the shoot­ing had ac­tu­ally tar­geted En­riquez’s hus­band, Arthur Redelfs, be­cause of his job as an of­fi­cer at the El Paso County Jail.

Chavez also is ac­cused in a nearly si­mul­ta­ne­ous at­tack on an­other ve­hi­cle that killed the hus­band of a Mex­i­can em­ployee of the con­sulate.

Je­sus Ernesto Chavez

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