EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Mexican officials are reporting the capture of a La Linea cartel lieutenant believed to be behind the Good Friday massacre of six people on a highway near the U.S. border.
Juan Manuel G.R., a.k.a. “El Johnny,” was arrested at the Cancun International Airport, the Chihuahua Attorney General reported on Tuesday. State police described “El Johnny” as a “criminal leader and generator of violence” in Northwest Chihuahua.
He was arrested Monday on a warrant for sexual assault of a minor but is being investigated in connection with the April 15 attack on Mexico Highway 2 that left two state police officers, a Mexican immigration agent and three civilians shot to death inside vehicles the attackers later burned.
The attack took place near the town of Janos, where roads and dirt trails lead to the Southeast Arizona and Southern New Mexico border.
“According to intelligence information, the suspect is a lieutenant in a criminal organization that operates in the northwest part of the state, primarily the cities of Buenaventura, Flores Magon, Ahumada and nearby towns, being in charge of a considerable number of people” the Attorney General said in a statement.
State authorities said “Johnny” fled Mexico after the attack and was taken into custody by state and federal police officers and National Guard troops as he prepared to take a flight. Officials didn’t say if he was returning to Mexico or was flying out of the country again.
The La Linea lieutenant tried to talk his way out of arrest by showing identification documents listing a different name, the Attorney General’s Office said. He was flown to Chihuahua City early Tuesday and taken to the Cereso 1 prison in the town of Aquiles Serdan.
Police had arrested seven cartel members shortly after the massacre, but a judge released a few days later.
Western Chihuahua in the past three years has been the site of multiple gunfights as La Linea (formerly the Juarez cartel) and various groups associated with the Sinaloa cartel fight for smuggling routes to the United States.