A 38-year old man identified by authorities as a cartel operative was gunned down on June 12, inside a church he fled to in the northern Mexican state of Sonora.
Local media reported the victim was pursued by gunmen in a truck when he pulled up to the front of a Catholic parish and ran inside while clutching his four-year-old son in colonia Casa Blanca, Ciudad Obregón. Witnesses said the victim ran to a section of the church where the grandmother of his son was seated and begged the gunmen, “Don’t shoot my child.” The pursuers then walked the victim to the altar and killed him with a burst of gunfire before approximately 40 parishioners preparing for mass. The killers fled and left the child unharmed.
Various police agencies arrived at the church and conducted a crime scene investigation led by ministerial police and forensic experts assigned to the state attorney general’s office.
According to police officials, the victim was Víctor Alejandro Arreola Becerra, aka “El Piloto,” a criminal target and had been previously investigated for sexual conduct with a minor. He was also linked to the former regional plaza boss of the Beltran Leyva Cartel, Trinidad “Chapo Trini” Olivas Valenzuela, who was murdered in July 2017 in Jalisco. The victim allegedly worked as a pilot for “Chapo Trini” and received orders from a cartel operative nicknamed “El Telcel” or “El Vaquero.”
The victim was also married to Beatriz Berenice Borbolla Robles, the ex-wife of Valentín Elizalde, a famous narcocorrido singer gunned down in November of 2006 in Reynosa, Tamaulipas after a concert. Narcocorridos or narco-ballads are a music genre that pays homage to the exploits of the most notorious drug kingpins and Elizalde had also written lyrics for the notorious Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, leader of the Sinaloa Cartel. Borbolla Robles was murdered in Sonora in May of 2016 when gunmen opened fire on the vehicle she was driving. Several days later, Víctor Alejandro Arreola Becerra and an associate were shot and wounded when gunmen opened fire on the funeral procession of his wife, Borbolla Robles.
According to Breitbart Texas law enforcement sources in Mexico, the murder at the church was carried out by the Sinaloa Cartel faction called “Los Salazar,” rivals of the Beltran Leyva Cartel. The turf battle between Los Salazar and Beltran Leyva is blamed for the recent spike in killings in Ciudad Obregón.
Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce has worked in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year assignment in Monterrey, Mexico, working out of the Consulate for the United States Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program, where he was the Regional Program Manager for Northeast Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas.) You can follow him on Twitter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org