“MX” for Borderland Beat
|Marco Antonio Guzmán Zúñiga was arrested by the Federal Police in June 2011. He is currently on the most-wanted list of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) along with La Linea fugitive boss Jesus Salas Aguayo (‘El Chuyin’).|
A judge in Chihuahua confirmed last week that Mario Antonio Guzman-Zuñiga, a former drug cartel boss known by his alias ‘El Brad Pitt’, will be charged with the murder of three state police officers.
Guzman-Zuñiga was a high-ranking member of La Linea, the former armed wing of the old Juarez Cartel. He was arrested in Chihuahua in June 2011 for his involvement in multiple murders, including the car bomb attack that killed three state police officers in July 2010.
According to Félix Aurelio Guerra Salazar, the presiding judge in his case, the trial will begin in 18 May 2021, nearly a decade after he was arrested. It is not uncommon for Mexican drug kingpins to spend years behind bars without going to trial due to the complexity of their criminal cases.
In Mexico’s cuttthroat drug underworld, ‘El Brad Pitt’ shares the stage as one of the most unique monikers of a drug cartel leader. Drug traffickers’ nicknames run from flashy and threatening to surreal and downright goofy.
“It’s a name given to the man by his associates. I guess they think he looks like him,” a spokeswoman for federal police said during Guzman-Zuñga’s arrest, referring to the Hollywood star Brad Pitt.
Guzman-Zuñiga was originally an officer in the Ciudad Juarez Municipal Police force. Many of the original members of La Linea were active and/or former police officers, including from the Chihuahua State Police. They were hired to become part of the old Juarez’s Cartel’s paramilitary wing.
Their role was instrumental in the helping the Carrillo Fuentes clan hold control of the Ciudad Juarez plaza, which was under dispute with the Sinaloa Cartel in the 2000s. Over the years, the power of the Juarez Cartel diminished but La Linea grew to become a larger criminal network. It is currently one of the leading criminal groups in Chihuahua and Ciudad Juarez.
In July 2010, La Linea members detonated a car bomb in Ciudad Juarez’s downtown area. As reported by Borderland Beat, this was the first successful car bomb attack in Mexico. The attack was carefully planned to catch civilians and security forces off guard. Three police officers and one uninvolved civilians were killed. The officers were Esteban Mario Ramos Márquez, Luis Ángel Padilla Maesse and Martín Barranco Juárez.
“It’s [was] a lot like Iraq,” said Claudio Arjon, who owned a restaurant near the scene of the attack and was surveying the damage from behind police lines. “Things [were] very different. It’s very different. It’s very ugly.”
Investigators say the attack was done as retaliation for the arrest of La Linea boss Armando Acosta Guerrero (‘El 35′), who was arrested hours earlier. Several La Linea chiefs have been blamed for masterminding the attack, Guzman-Zuñiga included.
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