Three Mexican drug cartels operated in the El Paso-Juarez region Daniel Borunda/El Paso Times
A small-town police chief was arrested on allegations he provided protection to the leader of the New Juárez Drug Cartel, officials said.
Chihuahua state police arrested three men on Wednesday night, who turned out to be the police chief of Namiquipa and two of his officers in western Chihuahua.
"It was learned that those arrested were part of a protection network for (Carlos) Arturo Quintana Quintana, alias 'El 80,' presumed leader of the New Juárez Drug Cartel," State Public Safety Commissioner Alberto Aparicio Avendaño said in a video statement.
Quintana is wanted by the FBI on drug trafficking charges in New Mexico.
Namiquipa is a town of about 1,700 located some 200 miles southwest of Juárez.
The three men were stopped in Namiquipa — allegedly in possession of five rifles, three handguns and what police described as an "important amount" of crystal methamphetamine, a state government news release stated.
The police chief was identified only as Hector M. and the two officers as Trinidad V. and Patricio H. because of rules regarding the naming of crime suspects.
State authorities are working with the Mexico attorney general's office, or PGR, in investigating the organized-crime case.
Quintana is reputedly involved in a battle with rival drug traffickers associated with the Sinaloa cartel that has caused a surge in bloodshed in western Chihuahua.
The violence included the killing of journalist Miroslova Breach Velducea in Chihuahua City in March.
Authorities said this week that Breach was allegedly targeted for reporting about drug cartel-backed political candidates for mayor of towns in the western part of the state.
The Mexican news magazine Proceso reported that allegations of narco-political ties were aired at a Chihuahua City court hearing this week for Juan Carlos Moreno Ochoa, alias "El Larry."
Moreno is allegedly affiliated with the family-run Los Salazar drug organization and is accused of plotting Breach's murder, officials said.
In March 2016, Breach wrote an article with the headline, "Organized crime imposes candidates for mayor in Chihuahua."
Proceso reported that Breach had reported that candidates in at least eight towns were affiliated with drug traffickers.
She reported a relative of Los Salazar was running for mayor in Breach's hometown of Chinipas and that Quintana had allegedly placed his mother-in-law as a candidate in Bachiniva.
Proceso reported that both candidates were running in a primary election in the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. The candidates dropped out of the race.
Proceso reported that the hearing featured an audio recording of a phone call between Breach and a spokesman for National Action Party, or PAN. The recording was on a laptop computer found with a suspect in the death of the journalist.
The PAN spokesman complained to Breach that the PAN was being blamed for Breach's article and he wanted to know her sources.
Breach refused to disclose her sources and told him that she was knew her hometown and was taking responsibility for the report.
"I signed the article because I have the ovaries and because I know how things are," Breach said in the recording, according to Proceso.
"My uncles have spoken to me and they tell me that they are praying the novena for me, then, that is it, so don't play. ... Silence is complicity and that is what has generated all this chaos."
Re: Police accused of protecting 'El 80' reputed leader of New Juárez Drug Cartel
'Protection Network' that's a different way to call the bribes paid to the Chief of Police and he was caught with meth.Chief of Police was a drug dealer,laughable but not surprising.I wonder if years from now or the not too distant future bribes for protection will be a thing of the past and narcos will work on intimidation only:in other words,provide us with protection and you get to live,that is your silver.Well just maybe Gov is worried about that and that's why they passed that military thing that they could sick the Marines on the narcos if need be.Just some thoughts.