Criminal Law Former Cartel member offers insight into border drug smuggling

Published on June 25th, 2013 | by Daniel R. Perlman


Former Cartel member offers insight into border drug smuggling

The former bodyguard of a high-ranking leader in a Mexican drug cartel offered insight into border drug smuggling after his arrest in El Paso, Tx., according to federal court documents.

Rigoberto Ruiz Alatorre is accused of being a former bodyguard for Gabino Salas Valenciano, an alleged narcotrafficker known as “El Ingeniero” (the engineer) who is reputed to run the Sinaloa cartel‘s operations in the Valley of Juarez.

Ruiz is awaiting trial in U.S. District Court in El Paso on charges of murder, drug trafficking, smuggling and drug conspiracy. Ruiz was arrested Feb. 16, 2012.

According to a federal criminal complaint, Ruiz was arrested after he was confronted by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents in the parking lot of the Comfort Suites hotel after agents learned Ruiz was going to be in El Paso, allegedly for a drug deal.

DEA agents told Ruiz that they knew he was involved with high-ranking Mexican drug traffickers. Documents stated that Ruiz agreed to answer questions.

The criminal complaint stated that Ruiz told DEA agents that he has known Salas for a long time and that he started working for Salas in about 2006, when Salas’ brother Valente Salas paid him $50,000 to be a bodyguard for Gabino Salas in the Valley of Juarez.

Valente Salas was reputedly the leader of a drug organization in the Valley of Juarez, a busy marijuana smuggling corridor southeast of Juarez across the border from the Fabens and Fort Hancock area.

The valley was a battleground in the war between the Juarez and Sinaloa drug cartels for control of border smuggling routes.

In 2008, Mexican federal officials said that Gabino Salas ordered the burning of ranches, homes and vehicles in the Valley of Juarez in retaliation for the decapitations of his brother Valente Salas and cousin.

Inherited cartel control

After his brother’s death, Gabino Salas inherited control of the organization. He is reputed to be a lieutenant in the Sinaloa drug cartel.

According to the criminal complaint, Ruiz told the DEA that Gabino Salas, another man known only as “Gavilan” and unnamed others were moving about 1,400 pounds of marijuana into the U.S. every week.

The document stated that Ruiz said that his job was to protect Gabino Salas during the movement of drug loads.

Ruiz allegedly told agents that the marijuana was in backpacks carried by people, often drug addicts, hired to carry the loads in the desert across the border, the complaint stated. After crossing the border, drug carriers would meet a vehicle that would then take the marijuana to a ranch for storage.

Ruiz “overheard Gabino Salas giving instructions, via radio, to the other lookouts with call signs, such as ‘L2′ to determine the area was safe (free of law enforcement presence) to carry the marijuana into the United States,” the criminal complaint stated. Ruiz “also explained that Gabino Salas would divert the immigration officer’s attention by sending individuals running across the United States-Mexico border without marijuana.”

Ruiz was initially charged with conspiracy to smuggle more than 1,000 kilos of marijuana. A federal grand jury in November issued a superseding indictment accusing Ruiz and other unnamed defendants on charges of drug conspiracy, smuggling, using firearms in relation to drug trafficking and murder in connection with drug trafficking.

If you have been arrested for a Drug Crime the Law Offices of Daniel R. Perlman can help. Please contact a Los Angeles Drug Crimes Attorney today to have your case reviewed.

Source: “Former Cartel member offers insight into border drug smuggling,” June 25, 2013.

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