Lack of valid search warrant, federal judge ruled the recent arrest of a feared cartel lord’s mistress was illegal days after the Cartel Santa Rosa De Lima said car bombs would be used against civilians.
Federal Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo has described the release from custody of the wife of the suspected leader of the Guanajuato-based Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel as “regrettable.”
Karina Mora, wife of José Antonio “El Marro” Yépez Ortiz, and three other suspected members of the Santa Rosa fuel theft and extortion cartel were arrested on January 29 in Celaya, Guanajuato.
Security forces seized four firearms, including an AK-47 and .270-caliber rifle, over 800 rounds of ammunition, loaded magazines, explosives, bulletproof vests, drugs, vehicles and over 69,000 pesos (US $3,700) in cash from the safe house in which the four suspects were detained.
|Click on image to englarge–from Radio Formula|
Despite the evidence against them, a federal judge absolved all four suspected criminals on Thursday and ordered their release because Guanajuato state police had not obtained a warrant to search the house.
Durazo told reporters Friday that the government regretted the decision to release the wife of “one of the most important criminal leaders” in Guanajuato.
“The judge alleges errors in due process; we respect the decision of the judge but it doesn’t stop being regrettable [because] after . . . an important investigation we find that the people are returning to the street without having paid” for the crimes of which they were accused, he said.
The security secretary also said that there is a special federal operation underway in Guanajuato, Mexico’s most violent state last year, explaining that the presence of security forces has been bolstered.
The Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel is engaged in a bloody turf war in Guanajuato with the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), considered Mexico’s most powerful criminal organization.
The leader of the former remains at large a year after the federal government launched a specific operation to capture him, although there is growing speculation that authorities, or the CJNG, will catch up with him soon.
Yépez was arrested in 2008 on organized crime charges but, like his wife, was released due to a violation of due process.
Irregularities in the arrest of suspected criminals are cited by judges as justification for their release with alarming frequency in Mexico. The release of so many suspects before they face trial is a factor in the high levels of impunity that continue to plague the country.