Assassination of Cardinal Posadas
Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo
|Cardinal, Archbishop of Guadalajara|
|Term ended||24 May 1993|
|Predecessor||José Salazar López|
|Successor||Juan Sandoval Íñiguez|
|Other posts||Cardinal-Priest of Nostra Signora di Guadalupe e San Filippo Martire|
|Ordination||23 September 1950|
|Consecration||14 June 1970|
28 June 1991|
by John Paul II
10 November 1926|
Salvatierra, Guanajuato, Mexico
24 May 1993 (aged 66)|
Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
Bishop of Tijuana (1970-1982)|
Bishop of Cuernavaca (1982-1987)
Cardinal Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo (11 November 1926 in Salvatierra, Guanajuato – 24 May 1993 in Guadalajara, Jalisco) was a Mexican bishop of the Catholic Church who served as the eighth archbishop of the see of Guadalajara and as a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.
On 24 May 1993, Posadas Ocampo, along with six other people, were assassinated in the parking lot of Guadalajara International Airport. He was inside his car and received 14 gunshots. A government inquiry concluded he was caught in a shootout between rival cocaine cartels and was mistakenly identified as a drug lord. According to a cable of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the cardinal was mistaken for Joaquín Guzmán Loera, "El Chapo", the head of the Sinaloa Cartel. No one was ever punished for the slaying itself, although charges related to the homicide would be filed. Juan Francisco Murillo Díaz "El Güero Jaibo" and Édgar Nicolás Villegas "El Negro", members of the Tijuana Cartel, were identified as the masterminds of the homicide.
Although ordered by the Tijuana Cartel, many members of the hit squad were actually San Diego-based members from the Logan Heights gang, trained by the Tijuana Cartel as assassins. Benjamín Arellano-Félix gave up two members of the hit squad: Juan Enrique Vasconez and Ramon Torres Mendez. Torres was killed while in custody awaiting trial. Vasconez received 9 years on weapons charges in Mexico.
Despite being committed in Mexico, the United States charged 9 members of the Logan Heights hit squad in relation to the murder. Three members ultimately pleaded guilty and received prison sentences of 18–22 years.
Reopening of case
The Posadas case was reopened after president Vicente Fox won power in 2000, ending seven decades of one-party rule. Fox took office vowing to clear up several high-profile murders. Deputy Attorney General María de la Luz Lima Malvido cited serious irregularities in earlier probes, including police obstruction and the disappearance of over 1,000 key documents. Since then, she says she has received death threats "from powerful quarters", her teenage daughter was held at gunpoint and her two other children were fired at in their car.
New leads emerged after the case's opening, including testimony from a childhood friend of Posadas. He says Posadas told him he was summoned to President Carlos Salinas' residence and threatened just weeks before his death. "There is a lot of proof that leads us to conclude that we are before a crime of state, prepared, organized and with the participation of state security forces," Fernando Guzmán, a conservative state legislator, said. Guzmán is close to the investigation because he represented the wife of Posadas' driver, also killed in the attack. He said investigators have ruled out the involvement of drug cartels, at least as the case was presented by Salinas' government. The new theory that the murder may have been ordered by members of the Salinas government was based on allegations that a senior Salinas aide warned Posadas to keep his mouth shut about information he had uncovered linking senior politicians with the drug trade and prostitution. No one has alleged Salinas was personally involved.
Around the 10th anniversary of the killing, senior Church members urged Fox in a letter to keep his word and see the case is solved. Posadas' successor, Cardinal Juan Sandoval, is convinced the murder was politically motivated. He, his lawyer and Guzmán have also reported death threats and appealed to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights for protection.
On 15 August 2006, US Department of Justice officials announced that US federal drug agents had arrested Mexican drug lord Francisco Javier Arellano Félix, a leader of the Tijuana Cartel responsible for digging elaborate tunnels to smuggle drugs under the U.S. border. In the aforementioned press release, US DOJ officials said Javier Arellano Félix was also charged in Mexico in 1993 with conspiring to assassinate Cardinal Juan Posadas Ocampo.
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