MÉXICO

US arrests suspect in 2022 attack on journalist Ciro Gómez Leyva

The alleged boss of a criminal gang that carried out an armed attack on prominent journalist Ciro Gómez Leyva last December was arrested in the United States on Monday.

The Federal Attorney General’s Office (FGR) said that the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives detained Armando Escárcega – aka “El Patrón” (The Boss) – in Delano, California.

Mexican journalist Ciro Gomez Leyva
Ciro Gómez Leyva, one of Mexico’s most well-known journalists, survived what Mexico City Police Chief Omar Harfuch called an assassination attempt. (Photo: Ciro Gómez Leyva/Facebook)

The FGR said that it had asked U.S. authorities to arrest Escárcega for the purposes of extradition, noting that he is accused in Mexico of “criminal association within the criminal cell that made an attempt on the life of the journalist Ciro Gómez Leyva.”

The federal authority, which last month assumed responsibility for the investigation into the crime, said that the suspect was put before a judge “for his extradition.”

Gunmen shot at Gómez, a television and radio broadcaster, while he was driving in southern Mexico City on Dec. 15, but he was not injured.

“At 11:10 pm, 200 meters from my house, two people on a motorcycle shot at me, apparently with the clear intention of killing me,” Gómez said on social media after the attack.

Luis Rodríguez Bucio at morning press conference
Deputy Security Minister Luis Rodríguez Bucio discusses the arrest at the president’s Tuesday morning press conference. (Screenshot)

“I was saved by the armor plating of my truck … and I have informed the authorities of the matter,” he said.

Numerous media reports described Escárcega as the alleged “intellectual author,” or mastermind, of the attack on Gómez, a news anchor at Imagen Televisión. But the journalist himself said that description wasn’t entirely accurate.

“I saw yesterday that some media outlets … said that the mastermind of the attack was arrested. As far as I understand … that’s not exactly the case,” Gómez said on Radio Fórmula on Tuesday morning.

He said that other people who have been arrested in connection with the attack have told authorities that Escárcega hired them and paid them, both with money and drugs.

Mexico City police operation in January
Mexico City police during an operation in January that led to the arrest of 11 people allegedly involved in the attempted murder of Gómez Leyva. (SSC/CUARTOSCURO.COM)

“He hadn’t finished paying them for the attack, according to what we saw in testimony,” Gómez said, adding that “El Patrón” is not the mastermind of the crime, but “the coordinator, the boss of what they call the execution cell.”

He suggested that someone “a level above” above Escárcega, or more than one level above, was really responsible for planning the attempt on his life. A motive for the attack has not been publicly disclosed.

The FGR didn’t identify the criminal group to which Escárcega allegedly belongs, but Gómez has previously said that “information obtained by authorities” speaks of a “link” between the gunmen who attacked him and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG).

Former Mexico City security minister Omar Harfuch – who was targeted by alleged CJNG gunmen in a 2020 attack – said that authorities were investigating a possible link to the Jalisco-based cartel.

Deputy Security Minister Luis Rodríguez Bucio said Tuesday that with the arrest of Escárcega, 19 people have been detained in connection with the Dec. 15 attack on Gómez. At least 11 of that number were arrested on Jan. 11.

Rodríguez said that the FGR, the National Intelligence Center and the federal Security Ministry have collaborated on “investigation and intelligence work” related to the crime.

Omar García Harfuch and Claudia Sheinbaum
Mexico City’s former public security minister, Omar García Harfuch, and mayor Claudia Sheinbaum at a press conference in January regarding arrests made in the Gómez Leyva case. (Andrea Murcia Monsivais / Cuartoscuro.com)

Gómez had expressed dissatisfaction with Mexico City authorities’ handling of the case, and requested that responsibility for it be transferred to the FGR.

“The federal Judge Manuel Edmundo Parúaka today agreed to the Federal Attorney General’s Office taking charge of the investigation … into the attack I suffered on Dec. 15. Good news for me, it’s what I requested on Aug. 17,” he wrote on the X social media site in late September.

With reports from El País, El Universal, Milenio and Infobae 

Fuente de la Nota: US arrests suspect in 2022 attack on journalist Ciro Gómez Leyva

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