JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) — Mexican police are looking for a drug trafficker nicknamed “The Iraqi” in connection with Wednesday’s killing of five men in a neighborhood south of Downtown Juarez.
On Wednesday afternoon, two men drove up to a house, walked into the back yard and fired .40-caliber guns, killing the five people gathered there, police said. A few days earlier, three people had been shot to death in the same general area in separate attacks.
“Neighbors refer to that property as a place where drugs were consumed. They say several men habitually gathered there for that purpose,” Chihuahua state Deputy Attorney General Jorge Nava said. He added trace amounts of crystal meth were found on the property, along with 11 spent bullet casings.
Nava said a gang allegedly headed by Jose Dolores Villegas Soto, also known as ‘The Iraqi,” is suspected of carrying out the attack. Villegas Soto is already wanted on a separate murder warrant and the gang is a suspect in as many as 20 murders going back to last year, in a bid to control drug sales in the area, police said.
Nava said it’s possible that “The Iraqi” has left the city, but that authorities throughout the state of Chihuahua are looking for him.
Wednesday afternoon’s multiple homicides bring the number of murders in this border city to 104, just this month. Nava said a lot of the homicides are linked to small-scale drug sales in the city.
“We are investigating the violence, but we also need to address the cause of the violence, which in this case is drug addiction,” he said. “The focus should be on preventing drug use among children and teenagers to stop them from progressing into drug sales, drug addiction, commiting crimes to pay for their addiction and, eventually, going to work for organized criminal organizations and committing even more serious crimes.”
Nava said the city’s violence — which included nearly 1,500 murders last year — appears to be going on in three sectors: Downtown and its surroundings, western Juarez and the communities south of the Rio Grande across from a portion of El Paso County, Texas, known as the Lower Valley.