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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Mexican authorities arrest drug trafficking leader in Chihuahua linked to Miroslava Breach murder



Mexican authorities arrested Arturo Quintina, known as “El 80,” an alleged drug trafficker suspected of ordering the March 2017 murder of journalist Miroslava Breach, according to El País.

According to a statement from the Mexican Secretariat of the Interior (Segob), Quintana is "the main generator of violence in the state of Chihuahua," which is on the border with the United States. Investigations by Mexican officials indicate him as being responsible for drug trafficking from Mexico to the U.S., and so "is one of the most wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the FBI in the United States.”

The statement from Segob does not mention Breach’s murder. However, as noted by El País, authorities found a card alongside Breach’s body after she was killed that was allegedly signed by El 80.

Breach investigated links between drug traffickers and Mexican politicians in the state. Twenty days before she was murdered, she published a report denouncing how the two most important parties in Mexico, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the National Action Party (PAN), presented candidates related to organized crime for mayor in several municipalities in the region.

She stated that Silvia Mariscal Estada, Arturo Quintana's mother-in-law, would be the candidate of the PRI in Bachíniva, and pointed out that he had already imposed the candidacy of Ramón Alonso Enríquez Mendoza in Namiquipa.

Breach was shot eight times in her car in front of her house on March 23, 2017. In addition to the note found beside her body, in April of 2017, a second note indicating that Quintana was responsible for Breach’s murder was found alongside the body of a murdered man, also in Chihuahua, El Diario reported. The note said that the executed man had murdered the journalist on orders from "El 80."

The State Attorney General’s Office (FGE, for its acronym in Spanish) discarded the two notes as “distractions,” El Diario reported.

At the end of December, Mexican authorities arrested Juan Carlos Moreno Ochoa, known as "El Larry," linked to the criminal group Los Salazares, which operates in the region and is associated with the Sinaloa Cartel, according to La Jornada. Moreno was accused of intentional homicide after prosecutors established that he oversaw Breach's execution by Ramón Andrés Zavala Corral, who was allegedly killed in December by Los Salazares criminal group in Sonora, near Chínipas, Proceso reported.

In her report on organized crime candidates, Breach stated that the candidate who would appear for the PRI in Chínipas was Juan Miguel Salazar, nephew of Adán Salazar, leader of Los Salazares. According to Proceso, the article's publication forced the PRI to change its candidates in Chínipas and Bachíniva.

In late April, a judge at the Superior Court of Justice of Chihuahua ruled that the investigation into the murder of the journalist should move from the State Attorney General's Office to the federal Attorney General's Office (PGR), according to Animal Político. The judge ruled on the basis that the Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Freedom of Expression (Feadle), an agency of the PGR responsible for investigating crimes committed against journalists, should attract the case.



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