Police Tuesday arrested another suspect linked to a drug smuggling cult blamed for as many as 23 deaths in Mexico City and along the U.S. border, and said five people picked up earlier had named several Mexican celebrities as members of the gang.
A statement issued Tuesday night by the Mexico City attorney general's office said Federal Judicial Police arrested Salvador Antonio Gutierrez Juarez, alias Jorge Monte, 54, Tuesday morning in the city's posh Pink Zone area.The statement said Gutierrez "admitted that he had taken part in the killing of a man known only as La Claudia, whose mutilated body was found in Mexico City's southern Tlal-pan neighborhood last year."
It was the latest arrest of suspected drug cult members, whose leader or "godfather," Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, was killed during a shootout Saturday in Mexico City. Five associates of Constanzo were arrested Saturday.
The cult's 23 alleged victims include 13 killed in ritual slayings at a ranch near the border city of Matamoros, two slain execution-style nearby and eight whose bodies were found in and around Mexico City.
Gutierrez Juarez and a second suspect, Omar Francisco Orea Ochoa, said Constanzo offered to initiate La Claudia into his cult, then killed him, the attorney general's office said.
Juan Diaz, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, said La Claudia's body "had the top of its skull chopped off with a machete, a hole made in the back, and the spinal cord extracted to make a necklace with, as they had done with their other victims."
Thirteen of 15 bodies - including that of a U.S. college student - found near Matamoros had been mutilated in what cult members said were human sacrifices aimed at protecting Constanzo's drug-smuggling operation.
The attorney general's statement also said the five people arrested Saturday told authorities Monday that several well-known Mexicans had been involved in Constanzo's cult. But authorities said they would not question all of those named based simply on the statements of those detained.
"The simple verbal accusations made by the detainees against several entertainment figures do not determine the criteria of the law to call on them to make statements," the statement said. But it said police had been ordered to question one of them, singer Oscar Athie.