EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Mexican exiles in El Paso are breathing a little easier after learning that the convicted drug kingpin responsible for their flight has been moved from Juarez to a prison in southern Mexico.
“It’s a positive development no doubt brought about by pressure from the families of his victims, the ones who put him in jail in the first place,” said Carlos Spector, an El Paso attorney and founder of Mexicans in Exile.
Mauricio Luna Aguilar, a.k.a. “Papacho” or Big Daddy, is a former Sinaloa cartel operative that several Mexican asylum-seekers in El Paso say was responsible for a violent crime wave that forced them to leave an area known as the Juarez Valley in 2014 and early 2015.
Luna was arrested in 2015 after the exiles secured the help of international organizations and members of the Mexican Congress to press for justice. But relatives of his victims – and now the Mexican government – say he still exerted influence over criminal gangs involved in drug trafficking, gun-running and extortion in the town of Guadalupe, east of Juarez.
Luna on Tuesday was flown out of Cereso 3 prison in Juarez; he’s now in a federal prison in the southern state of Oaxaca, according to Mexican news media.
Spector, who represents and regularly stays in touch with the exiles from Guadalupe, said they had been concerned about his proximity while jailed in Juarez.
“It’s a good thing (he’s gone) but it doesn’t solve the problem because others will replace him,” Spector said, going on to name a number of alleged drug traffickers in the Juarez Valley.
That area east of Juarez borders Far West Texas communities like Fort Hancock and Tornillo, where there’s a substantial gap in the border wall.
Guadalupe has been the site of gangland-style murders in which competing drug cartels have tried to intimidate rivals by chopping up their victims and placing body parts in coolers or strewing them about the highway.