A former US Army and Texas police officer is accused of leading a kidnapping gang captured by authorities in Mexico, the latest example of US military skills being utilized by Mexican organized crime.
The 16-man organization allegedly kidnapped and killed the 70-year-old father of a municipal mayor in the northeastern border state of Tamaulipas, where the group operated, reported Vanguardia.
Identified variously as Luis Ricardo Gonzalez Aguirre, Javier Aguirre Cardenas, or Javier "N" by Mexican news sources, the group's leader is a 32-year-old US citizen who served in the US Army from 1998 to 2002 and then as a Texas police officer in the border city of Laredo between 2004 and 2009.
According to El Universal, he moved across the frontier to Tamaulipas in 2009, at which point he became involved in criminal activity.
The former US security official is originally from the Tamaulipas border town of Reynosa, and allegedly ran illegal activities in various municipalities throughout the state. It is believed the group operated on the behalf of a larger criminal organization, although it is unclear which group and what other illicit activities the kidnappers engaged in, reported Proceso.
The 16 members of the gang were arrested in eight separate operations by anti-kidnapping police, reported Milenio.
InSight Crime Analysis
The revelation of a former US serviceman offering his services to a Mexican organized crime group follows a number of similiar reports this year which some say illustrate a deliberate strategy by cartels to recruit from US security force ranks. In July this year, a former US soldier was convicted of the 2009 assassination of a Juarez Cartel member, after being recruited by the rival Gulf Cartel to carry out the slaying.
Earlier this year, in April, an FBI bulletin (pdf) from 2011 was leaked which outlined the vigorous expansion of recruitment by the Zetas in the United States. In September, a former US soldier plead guilty to offering assassination services to undercover DEA agents, who he thought were members of the Zetas.The Zetas themselves have military origins, often considered a key factor in their rapid expansion throughout Mexico following their 2010 split from the Gulf Cartel, and other organized crime groups have mimicked their military rigor.
SEE ALSO: Zetas News and Profile
A close relationship between organized crime and security force personnel is common throughout Latin America. The Zetas are reported to have recruited Guatemalan military personnel to operate on their behalf, while Honduran and Brazilian policemen have been known to work as hitmen, to note just two examples.