Ciudad Juarez

OpenCalais Metadata: Latitude: 
31.7333333333
OpenCalais Metadata: Longitude: 
-106.475

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (AP) — President Felipe Calderon on Thursday unveiled a “No More Weapons!” billboard made with crushed firearms and placed near the U.S. border. He urged the United States to stop the flow of weapons into Mexico.

The billboard, which is in English and weighs 3 tons, was placed near an international bridge in Ciudad Juarez and can be seen from the United States.

Calderon said the billboard’s letters were made with weapons seized by local, state and federal authorities.

“Dear friends of the United States, Mexico needs your help to stop this terrible violence that we’re suffering,” Calderon said in English during the unveiling ceremony.

“The best way to do this is to stop the flow of automatic weapons into Mexico,” he added.

Before unveiling the billboard, Calderon supervised the destruction of more than 7,500 automatic rifles and handguns at a military base in Ciudad Juarez.

Calderon said more than 140,000 weapons have been seized since December 2006, when he launched a crackdown against drug traffickers. More than 47,500 people have been killed since then.

One of the cities most affected by the violence is Ciudad Juarez, where more than 9,000 have died in drug violence since 2008.

Also Thursday, the country’s Attorney General said a federal prosecutor assigned to a northern state has been detained on suspicion of protecting the brutal Zetas drug cartel.

Attorney General Marisela Morales said federal prosecutor Claudia Gonzalez has been sent to prison. She didn’t say when Gonzalez was detained or give any other details.

Gonzalez was based in the city of Saltillo, capital of the border state of Coahuila.

The state on the border with Texas has seen a spike of violence as the Zetas and the Sinaloa drug cartel fight for control of drug smuggling routes into the United States.

Jose Antonio Acosta Hernandez, 33, is escorted by federal police officers to a media presentation in Mexico City on Sunday. According to federal officials, Acosta is a key drug cartel figure.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

MEXICO CITY — A former police officer who allegedly admits ordering 1,500 killings during a campaign of terror as a drug gang chieftain along the U.S. border has been captured in northern Mexico, federal officials said Sunday.
Jose Antonio Acosta Hernandez also is a suspect in last year’s slaying of a U.S. consulate employee near a border crossing in Ciudad Juarez.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon said through his Twitter account that Acosta’s capture is “the biggest blow” to organized crime in Ciudad Juarez since he sent about 5,000 federal police to the city in April 2010 to try to curb violence in one of the world’s most dangerous cities.

Acosta, 33, was caught Friday in the northern city of Chihuahua along with his bodyguard, said Ramon Pequeno, head of the federal police anti-drug unit. He did not specify how the capture happened. Acosta’s arrest was not confirmed until Sunday, just before officials displayed him to the news media in Mexico City.

Wearing a long-sleeve dress shirt, the short man with a cleft chin and thick eyebrows limped as he was escorted by two masked federal police officers to stand before the cameras.

Pequeno said at the press conference that Acosta told federal police he ordered 1,500 killings.

U.S. prosecutors also want to try him in that case. A federal indictment filed in the western district of Texas says Acosta and nine others conspired to kill the three. Pequeno said he expects an extradition request from the U.S. government.

Mexican authorities have identified Acosta as head of La Linea, a gang of hit men and corrupt police officers who act as enforcers for the Juarez Cartel.

Acosta acknowledged he ordered the most notorious crimes such as the detonation of a July 2010 car bomb and a massacre that killed 15 people, mostly teenagers, at a birthday party, both in Ciudad Juarez, Pequeno said.

A former state police officer, Acosta built a criminal empire, not only leading a gang of contract killers for the Juarez Cartel but also extorting businesses and kidnapping for large ransoms, said Tony Payan, drug war expert at the University of Texas-El Paso.