3 with ties to US consulate killed in Mexican border city, including couple with baby in carBy Olivia Torres, AP
Sunday, March 14, 2010
3 with ties US consulate killed in Mexican city
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — Three people with ties to the American consulate were killed in a drug-plagued Mexican city, including a U.S. couple shot to death within sight of the border with their baby in their back seat, officials said Sunday.
President Barack Obama expressed outrage over the killings, and Mexican President Felipe Calderon promised a swift investigation.
Several U.S. citizens have been killed in Mexico’s drug war, most of them people with family ties to Mexico. However, it is rare for American government employees to be targeted.
The three died during a particularly bloody weekend in Mexico, with nearly 50 people killed in apparent drug-gang violence. Nine people were killed in a gang shootout early Sunday in the Pacific resort city of Acapulco, one of Mexico’s spring break attractions.
The U.S. consulate employee and her husband were shot to death Saturday in their car near the Santa Fe International bridge linking Ciudad Juarez with El Paso, Texas, said Vladimir Tuexi, a spokesman for Chihuahua state prosecutors’ office.
Their baby was found unharmed in the back seat. Tuexi estimated the child was about 1 year old.
Killed were consular employee Lesley A. Enriquez, 35, and her husband, Arthur H. Redelfs, 34, according to Robert Cason, Redelfs’ stepfather.
Redelfs was a detention officer with the El Paso County Jail, Cason said.
He declined to discuss the welfare of his grandchild. “I don’t want to give any more information to the psychotics out there,” he said.
Tuexi said the baby was in the custody of Mexican social services.
The U.S. government has not described Enriquez’s job at the consulate, and Cason said he didn’t know what she did there. A neighbor of Enriquez, Zonia Rivas, also didn’t know.
“I do know she just went back to work about three months ago after having her baby,” she said.
The White House said the husband of a Mexican citizen employee was also killed Saturday, apparently in a separate shooting. Mexican authorities had no information on that slaying.
Obama was “deeply saddened and outraged” by the killings, the White House said.
“He extends his condolences to the families and condemns these attacks on consular and diplomatic personnel serving at our foreign missions,” the White House said in a statement. “In concert with Mexican authorities, we will work tirelessly to bring their killers to justice.”
Police said they had no information on a possible motives.
Civilians have increasingly gotten caught in the middle of drug gang violence that has made Ciudad Juarez one of the deadliest cities in the world, with more than 2,500 people killed last year alone. At least 11 people were killed in Ciudad Juarez over the weekend.
The State Department authorized U.S. government employees at Ciudad Juarez and five other U.S. consulates in northern Mexico to send their family members out of the area because of concerns about rising drug violence. The cities are Tijuana, Nogales, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey and Matamoros.
Calderon’s office said the Mexican president “expresses his indignation” and “his sincerest condolences to the families of the victims.” He “reiterated the Mexican government’s unwavering compromise to resolve these grave crimes.”
The State Department noted the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City has advised American citizens to delay unnecessary travel to parts of the Mexican states of Durango, Coahuila and Chihuahua.
State Department spokesman Fred Lash said the decision to authorize consular employees’ family members to leave the area was based not only on Saturday’s killings but also on a wider pattern of violence and threats in northern Mexico in recent weeks.
Nearly 18,000 people have been killed since Calderon deployed tens of thousands of troops and federal police across the country in December 2006 in an offensive against drug traffickers.
In Acapulco, a battle between drug gangs killed eight gunmen and a 23-year-old woman caught in the cross fire as she rode in a taxi, according to a Guerrero state police report.
Weekend shootouts left more than 30 people dead in Guerrero, where several cartels are battling for drug dealing turf and trafficking routes.
The dead included two people found beheaded Saturday in a scenic road of Acapulco packed with nightclubs. A shootout between troops and gang members left 10 gunmen and a soldier dead in a rural town in central Guerrero.
Associated Press Writers Philip Elliott in Washington and Terry Wallace in Dallas contributed to this report.
(This version CORRECTS the spelling of Arthur H. Redelfs, instead of ‘Redelf.’))
Tags: Barack Obama, Central America, Ciudad Juarez, Drug-related Crime, Gangs, Latin America And Caribbean, Mexico, North America, Smuggling, Texas, United States, Violent Crime