Thursday, April 24, 2014

Barrio Azteca Lieutenant Who Ordered the Consulate Murders in Ciudad Juarez Sentenced to Life in Prison

Arturo Gallegos Castrellon, aka “Benny,” “Farmero,” “51,” “Guero,” “Pecas,” “Tury,” and “86,” 35, of Chihuahua, Mexico, the Barrio Azteca Lieutenant who ordered the March 2010 murders of a U.S. Consulate employee, her husband and the husband of another U.S. Consulate employee, was sentenced today to serve life in prison.

Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman for the Western District of Texas, Special Agent in Charge Douglas E. Lindquist of the FBI’s El Paso Division and Administrator Michele M. Leonhart of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made the announcement.

Arturo Gallegos Castrellon led the teams of assassins who carried out the U.S. Consulate shootings in March 2010 and ruthlessly murdered nearly 1,600 others as part of a cartel conflict over a drug trafficking route from Mexico into the United States,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General O’Neil.   “His gang of killers terrorized and victimized men and women on both sides of the border, but thanks to the hard work of our law enforcement partners he will now spend the rest of his life in prison for his crimes.”

“I cannot overstate the significance of this victory in our ongoing efforts to end the depredations of the cartels operating along our Southern border,” said U.S. Attorney Pitman.  “This prosecution has called to account Arturo Gallegos Castrellon for the senseless murders he orchestrated in Ciudad Juarez and elsewhere and demonstrates our commitment to ending the murder and mayhem he and the cartels have fomented.”

“The DEA is committed to ensuring cold-blooded criminals, like Arturo Gallegos Castrellon, who murder innocent victims, traffic huge amounts of drugs worldwide, and incite violence are taken off the street and remain behind bars,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart.  “Castrellon’s conviction and life sentence is a clear sign that the DEA, along with our law enforcement partners, will not tolerate those who attack Americans abroad and is committed to upholding the rule of law, protecting our citizens, and bringing to justice the world’s worst criminals.”

Today’s sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone in the Western District of Texas.   In addition, Judge Cardone ordered Gallegos Castrellon to pay $998,840 in restitution and $785,500 in forfeiture.

After his extradition from Mexico on June 28, 2012, a federal jury found Gallegos Castrellon guilty of six counts of murder and conspiracies to commit racketeering, narcotics trafficking, narcotics importation, murder in a foreign country and money laundering.

Evidence at trial proved that Gallegos Castrellon was a leader in the Barrio Azteca (BA), a violent street and prison gang that began in the late 1980s and expanded into a transnational criminal organization.   The BA formed an alliance with “La Linea,” part of the Juarez Drug Cartel, which is also known as the Vincente Carrillo Fuentes Drug Cartel (VCF).   The purpose of the BA-La Linea alliance was to battle the Sinaloa Cartel and its allies for control of the drug trafficking route through Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico.   The drug route through Juarez, known as the Juarez Plaza, is important to drug trafficking organizations because it is a principal illicit drug trafficking route into the United States.

Evidence at trial also proved that Gallegos Castrellon was in charge of BA teams of assassins, which he helped create and supervised in 2008 through 2010.   His teams killed up to 800 persons between January and August 2010, reaching a total of nearly 1,600 in a multi-year period.

Trial evidence also proved that Gallegos Castrellon ordered the March 13, 2010, triple homicide in Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, of U.S. Consulate employee Leslie Enriquez, her husband Arthur Redelfs, and Jorge Salcido Ceniceros, the husband of another U.S. Consulate employee.

A total of 35 defendants were charged in the third superseding indictment and are alleged to have committed various criminal acts, including the 2010 Juarez Consulate murders, as well as racketeering, narcotics distribution and importation, retaliation against persons providing information to U.S. law enforcement, extortion, money laundering, murder and obstruction of justice.  Of the 35 defendants charged, 26 have been convicted, one committed suicide before the conclusion of his trial, and two remain fugitives, including Eduardo Ravelo, an FBI Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitive.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s El Paso Field Office, Albuquerque Field Office (Las Cruces Resident Agency), DEA Juarez, and DEA El Paso.   Special assistance was provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the U.S. Marshals Service; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the Federal Bureau of Prisons; the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service; the Texas Department of Public Safety; the Texas Department of Criminal Justice; the El Paso Police Department; the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office; the El Paso Independent School District Police Department; the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission; the New Mexico State Police; the Dona Ana County, N.M., Sheriff’s Office; the Las Cruces, N.M., Police Department; the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility and the Otero County Prison Facility New Mexico.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Joseph A. Cooley of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section, Trial Attorney Brian Skaret of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney John Gibson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Texas - El Paso Division.   Valuable assistance was provided by the Criminal Division’s Offices of International Affairs and Enforcement Operations.

Professional Truck Driver Helps Subdue a Wanted Criminal; May Have Saved State Trooper’s Life

Truckload Carriers Association names Oklahoma’s Harry Welker a Highway Angel

Alexandria, Virginia -- Harry Welker of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, who is a professional truck driver for Melton Truck Lines, Inc., of Tulsa, Oklahoma, has been named a Highway Angel by the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA). Welker is being recognized for helping to subdue a belligerent man who was involved in a “life and death struggle” with a state trooper.

On October 22, 2013, at about mid-morning, Welker and a trainee (who is not currently affiliated with Melton Truck Lines) had stopped at a rest area on I-70 in Kannapolis, Kansas. As they crossed the parking lot and entered the restroom facilities, they noticed a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper had pulled over a van for a traffic violation. It seemed like a routine matter... but not for long.

While the two men were inside the restroom, the trooper attempted to identify the occupant of the van. The man was evasive and provided several different names. Suspicions aroused, the trooper asked the man to get out of his vehicle and place his hands on the hood of the trooper’s SUV. However, when he tried placing a handcuff on the man’s wrist, the man became extremely hostile, attacked the trooper, and placed him in a chokehold. According to a written account by the superintendent of the Kansas Highway Patrol, “a life and death struggle then ensued,” as the man punched the officer several times in the face and tried to gain control of the trooper’s gun.

By the time Welker and the trainee began walking back to their tractor trailer, the incident had escalated to the point where the man and the trooper were violently fighting on the ground in the middle of the parking lot. The man had forced himself on top of the trooper; it appeared it was only a matter of time before he overpowered him. Welker and the trainee, who are U.S. Marine Corps veterans, immediately went to help. They tackled the man, helping to subdue him, but he continued to resist, even when the trooper used a stun gun. Eventually, with Welker and the trainee’s help, the trooper was finally able to handcuff and arrest the man, who turned out to be wanted for parole violations in another state.

“It was my natural reaction to go over there and help. I didn’t give it a second thought,” said Welker, who spent eight years as a corrections officer for the state of Missouri and also used to escort prisoners for the Marines. “I’m not out to get recognition… I’m a concerned citizen who took action when action needed to be taken.”

The Kansas Highway Patrol has given Welker a plaque for his selfless actions on that morning. “Mr. Welker, you exhibited a great deal of bravery when you, unselfishly and without regard to your own safety, responded to help [our trooper],” states the letter of thanks. “You put yourself in harm’s way for a State Trooper who you did not know. Your actions undoubtedly saved [the trooper] from further injury and possibly death.”

For his heroism, TCA has presented its latest Highway Angel with a certificate, patch, and lapel pin. Melton Truck Lines, Inc., also received a certificate acknowledging that one of its drivers is a Highway Angel.

Since the program’s inception in August 1997, hundreds of drivers have been recognized as Highway Angels for the unusual kindness, courtesy, and courage they have shown others while on the job.
To nominate a driver or learn more about the program and its honorees, visit the Highway Angel Web page at or Facebook page at For additional information, contact TCA at (703) 838-1950 or

# # #

TCA is the only national trade association whose collective sole focus is the truckload segment of the motor carrier industry.  The association represents dry van, refrigerated, flatbed, and intermodal container carriers operating in the 48 contiguous states, as well as Alaska, Mexico, and Canada.  Representing operators of more than 200,000 trucks, which collectively produce annual revenue of more than $20 billion, TCA is an organization tailored to specific truckload carrier needs.

Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole Speaks at the Department of Justice’s 2014 Nationwide Tour to Raise Awareness of Sexual Assault on College Campuses

Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C. ~ Thursday, April 24, 2014

Good morning.  As most of you know, President Obama took an unprecedented step this year in his effort to address campus sexual assault. In January, the President established the “White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.” The Task Force was charged with sharing best practices, and increasing transparency, enforcement, public awareness, and interagency coordination to prevent violence and support survivors.
At the same time, the White House issued a report that highlights the startling campus sexual assault statistics that you all know too well -- that students experience some of the highest rates of sexual assault. This violence, and the stress, fear and mental health challenges that often follow, combine to increase dropout rates and limit opportunities for success in college for women and girls.
In discussing the Task Force, the President said, “ We need to keep saying to anyone out there who has ever been assaulted — you are not alone. You will never be alone. We’ve got your back. I’ve got your back.” It is that pledge that has brought me here today.
This next year marks the 20th anniversary of President Bill Clinton’s signing of the Violence Against Women Act into law. It also marks the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women (OVW), which has helped to provide funding for the programs we will discuss today.
My visit is part of a nationwide university tour by administration officials to raise awareness of campus sexual assault. We will visit a dozen schools across the country to meet with students and faculty like you.  Many schools are working every day to fight intimate partner and sexual violence on campus and to train young people about how to prevent and report this type of activity.  We want to make sure that survivors everywhere know that they have a place – and a voice.  Survivors have this Administration’s commitment to build toward a future where domestic abuse, sexual assault, stalking and teen dating violence are eradicated. 
As the White House report described, we know that when young people witness or are victims of violence, they pay the price for many years to come. We also know that campuses face unique challenges. We have heard from many on college campuses about these challenges, and that’s why the OVW campus program was created -- to deal with the specific issues you face. 

While we believe that the federal government has an important role to play, we also know that the government -– alone -- cannot stop violence on campus.  It is essential to develop campus-based coordinated responses that include campus victim services, campus law enforcement, health providers, housing officials, administrators, student leaders, faith-based organizations, student organizations, and disciplinary boards.

To succeed, this coordinated response must be linked to local criminal justice agencies and service providers.  We must capitalize on the expertise of local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors’ offices, the courts, and nonprofit, nongovernmental victim advocacy and services agencies. 
In recognition of the importance of these joint efforts, the campus tours conducted across the country are highlighting DOJ grantees who have invested in developing coordinated community response (CCR) teams to comprehensively address sexual assault on their campus.
That is why I am so honored to be here with you today at Gallaudet.  This morning, I want to thank you on behalf of the President, the Attorney General, and all of us in the Administration for your hard work and dedication. 
I know that all of you here are personally and professionally affected when intimate and sexual violence occurs on your campus. You see the impact in your campus community, you support the victims, and you work to take the appropriate action when a crime occurs. I want to extend my heartfelt appreciation – for meeting with me today and, more importantly, for being part of the solution.

If we are truly going to take advantage of the national spotlight cast by the President, then we need to do more than raise awareness. We need to take affirmative steps to transform awareness and advocacy into action. We must commit ourselves to strengthening programs and services -- not just for the students enrolled today -- but for future Gallaudet students.

This morning, I am not here just to talk. I want to learn from you all what is working.   What are the best practices playing out here that we can share with other schools?  Where are the challenges to success and how can we work together to overcome them?  How are you integrating the changing pace of social media and technology into your prevention and intervention programs?  I welcome an honest and frank discussion, as it will help me be better at doing my job of protecting the American people. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Report Examines Prosecutorial Decisionmaking

The Missing Link: Examining Prosecutorial Decision-Making Across Federal District Courts, examines federal charging decisions in U.S. District Courts. It addresses the general lack of research on how prosecutorial decisions are made in the federal justice system by assessing the consequences of prosecutorial discretion regarding fairness, equality and consistency in federal charging and punishment decisions. To read the report, go to (The National Institute of Justice has made this report available through the National Criminal Justice Reference Service. The report is the result of an NIJ-funded project but was not published by the U.S. Department of Justice.)

Watch Video on Female Body Armor

A new video from the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center focuses on proper fit of body armor for female police officers. In addition to providing ballistic protection, body armor needs to be comfortable for officers of all shapes and sizes. It needs to be comfortable, breathable, flexible and easy to wear every day. To watch Female Body Armor: Proper Fit Takes Precedence, go to

Alcohol: More than a fun night out

by Senior Airman Jose L. Hernandez-Domitilo
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

4/23/2014 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- After a long series of months working 12-hour shifts, they finally had a full weekend off.

Naturally, the Airmen couldn't wait to unwind from the stress of work and head downtown for a fun night of drinking.

"Drink moderately and have a plan" is likely to be the first thing Airmen heard in a safety briefing from their supervisor that afternoon before leaving work. However, what often tends to be neglected from the typical safety briefing are the negative implications of heavy alcohol-use, including social and health-related repercussions.

Whether it is engaging in discussions on the radio, briefings at the First Term Airman's Course, or by hosting events like a driving under the influence simulation with golf carts, educating on the consequences of alcohol abuse is a top priority for Misawa's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Treatment program.

1st Lt. Esther Williams, ADAPT program manager, says her team has been especially busy this month since April is Alcohol Awareness Month.

Fortunately, alcohol-related incidents, including domestic abuse and maltreatment cases, at Misawa Air Base are on a downward trajectory since 2012, Williams noted.
For the Airmen who have found themselves in alcohol-related trouble, Williams has heard it all. Some say Misawa is in an austere location with not much else to do, some attribute it to work-related stress, while others feel it is a cultural expectation to drink.

"There are two common command-referrals for ADAPT: One is duty-related incidents, to include curfew violations, and the other is drunken disorderly conduct," says Williams.

Individuals who drive under the influence often times underestimate the amount of alcohol in their blood stream. On average it takes roughly one-and-a-half to two hours to metabolize one standard drink. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a standard drink is one 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor.

Even if the blood alcohol content level of an individual reaches zero, William says, there are often times lingering effects on the body that sometimes last up to 48 hours. These could include a slower cognitive ability, anxiety, irritability, slurred speech, and diarrhea, among other effects.

Long term effects of alcohol include:

· Liver cancer
· Esophageal cancer
· Cirrhosis
· Insomnia
· Jaundice
· High blood pressure and other heart-related diseases

In the worst-case scenarios, a night of heavy drinking can lead to a stroke-induced death or even asphyxiation through vomiting.

It also keeps individuals in lower level stages of sleep and prevents them from reaching deeper ones needed for the body to repair and heal. Williams says alcohol can also reverse physical fitness performance and potentially lead to weight gain.

Alcoholism can also negatively impact work productivity and cause problems with family or friends. These could lead to altercations or potentially spark a domestic abuse case.

Williams says regardless of the physical and social problems of long-term alcohol abuse can generate, she acknowledges alcohol consumption during a common night out on a weekend can be a part of the equation when "having fun." Nevertheless, she stressed individuals should remember to drink in moderation.

"Just know your limits," Williams says. "The biggest tip I have for Airmen on this issue is be safe and have a plan."

For more information about alcohol abuse or for assistance with alcohol-related issues, contact the Mental Health Clinic at 226-3230. Individuals can also visit the Military Mental Health Screening Program to take an anonymous alcohol screening survey. 

Staying Involved During National Child Abuse Prevention Month, April 2014

April 23rd, 2014 Posted by The Department of Justice

Courtesy of Karol Mason, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs

When he proclaimed April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, President Obama said, “Every child should have every chance in life, every chance at happiness, and every chance at success. Yet tragically, hundreds of thousands of young Americans shoulder the burden of abuse or neglect.” The President urged Americans to remember that we all have a role to play in preventing child abuse and neglect and in helping young victims recover.

Protecting children is a top priority of Attorney General Eric Holder. Since his days as a prosecutor he has recognized the terrible impact of violence, trauma and abuse on children and the importance of coordinating our response. As Deputy Attorney General under Janet Reno, he established “Safe Start,” a program designed to reduce the impact of children’s exposure to violence. When he took office as Attorney General in 2009, he picked up where he left off and launched “Defending Childhood,” an ongoing initiative to improve our understanding of the impact of children’s exposure to violence, turning that knowledge into workable strategies and effective programs.

This work comes at a critical time. A study released in 2009 by our Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention showed that an astonishing 60 percent of children in the United States are exposed to some form of violence, crime, or abuse, ranging from brief encounters as witnesses to violent episodes as victims. The consequences of exposure to violence and abuse can lead in the short term to poor performance in school and to drug and alcohol abuse, but far more devastating is the long-term physical and psychological harm to the affected child. Kids who are exposed to violence have higher rates of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other physical issues. They are at greater risk of future victimization and suicide.

This damage extends beyond the individual children who are affected. We all feel the effects in rising healthcare, criminal justice, and other public costs. This significant public safety problem is fast becoming a serious public health problem – and it requires a wide-ranging response.

The good news is that because children are resilient, intervention and prevention work. OJP’s bureaus are engaged in supporting research that translates into programs and resources for those working with children.

For example, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention helps victims of child abduction and commercial sexual exploitation, and supports mentoring programs for tribal youth and faith-based and community initiatives.
The National Institute of Justice’s Violence Against Women and Family Violence Research and Evaluation program promotes the safety of women and family members and aims to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system’s response to these crimes.

The Office for Victims of Crime has highlighted the issue with its remarkable series of videos, “Through Our Eyes: Children, Violence and Trauma” and this year will fund demonstration sites to establish a consistent, coordinated response to child and youth victims and their families and caregivers.

We are also collecting information on the needs of underserved populations. Because relatively little is known about violence against American Indian and Alaska Native children, and because what we do know is of great concern, the Attorney General appointed a new task force specifically to study this issue. That task force is now holding hearings throughout the country, addressing the impact of child sexual abuse, the intersection between child maltreatment and domestic violence, and the impact of the juvenile justice system.

This month also gives us a chance to thank those already committed to helping children in need. Recently I was privileged to speak to over 1,000 people at the National Symposium on Child Abuse about their work at child advocacy centers, where children who are brought into contact with our child protective and justice systems are getting the services they need to deal with the trauma they have experienced, such as critical medical care and coordinated and efficient case management.

Eliminating child abuse is a huge challenge. Thousands of children in communities across America need us – all of us – to advocate for their future, to determine whether it will be one darkened by the violence and abuse they have experienced or one lit by care and hope. As the President said in his proclamation, “Our nation thrives when we recognize that we all have a stake in each other. This month and throughout the year, let us come together — as families, communities, and Americans — to ensure every child can pursue their dreams in a safe and loving home.”

I encourage everyone to join in dialogues and community events that put our children front and center in our lives. For Office of Justice Programs resources on this topic please visit, and for direct help addressing child abuse contact the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453.