TIJUANA – Military authorities have detained an alleged enforcer for the Sinaloa cartel in Baja California, it was announced Wednesday.
He was identified as Jehová Israel Ilhuicatzi Morales, 34, alleged to be the main enforcer for René Arteaga, nicknamed “La Rana,” who along with his brother, Alfredo Arteaga, known as “El Aquiles,” are believed to be the regional leaders of the Sinaloa cartel.
Ilhuicatzi Morales, known as “El Cuervo,” is accused of homicide and various crimes against public and law enforcement officials, according to the Baja California Attorney General’s Office.
Authorities did not announce details of his arrest although sources said he was detained Tuesday night by soldiers while driving a van in the city’s east side.
The Attorney General’s Office said that Ilhuicatzi Morales ordered the killing of a drug dealer for a rival criminal group on Nov. 1 in the neighborhood of El Tecolote, in the city’s south side.
The spokesman for Tijuana’s public safety department, Julián Domínguez, announced that day that, following a chase and shootout, officers had detained four people who had tried to kill Jesús Omar Acuña Parra, 27, apparently because he had not paid a drug debt.
Domínguez had identified the four suspects as Juan Manuel Bocanegra Fortánez, 27; Antonio Cedano Cuellar; Manuel Gastélum Hernández, 29; and Héctor Flores Jurado, 29, who was being treated at the hospital for a gunshot wound.
The state’s prosecutor against organized crime, Abel Galván, said Wednesday they are linked to at least 11 homicides in Tijuana and Rosarito Beach connected to drug dealing and “user fees,” or payments exacted by a criminal organization to be able to work in its territory.
Galván said that the four who were detained declared that they received direct orders from Ilhuicatzi Morales.
State investigators said that, based on the Nov. 1 murder attempt, they ascertained that Ilhuicatzi Morales was ordering the killing of street dealers working for a rival criminal cell “to get them out of the way to be able to sell drugs.”
The state Attorney General’s Office said its investigation of Ilhuicatzi Morales was continuing and that he figured in five additional murder investigations.
In the last few months, military as well as civilian authorities have alleged that Ilhuicatzi Morales and René Arteaga are controlling the sale and movement of drugs for the regional cell of the Sinaloa cartel, headed by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.
They took over that cell following the arrests of its previous leaders, Teodoro “El Teo” García Simental (January of 2010) and Héctor Guajardo “El Guicho” Hernández (reapprehended in September).
On Nov. 15, during a press conference announcing the discovery of a drug tunnel in Mesa de Otay, where nearly 8.8 tons of marijuana were found, the head of the Second Military Zone, Gilberto Landeros, said it belonged to the Sinaloa cartel.
Some of the marijuana packages carried the image of Captain America, the Marvel Comics superhero, something Alfredo Arteaga is known to do, Landeros said.
And just Tuesday, military authorities announced that they had seized $15 million in cash, weapons and drugs from a vehicle parked in Tijuana believed to belong to the Sinaloa cartel’s cell.
Authorities have said that 80 percent of the violent deaths in Tijuana this year are the result of clashes among drug dealers and territorial disputes. They have logged 436 homicides in the city to Nov. 19.