A man who Mexican authorities say is a former U.S. Marine and policeman has been arrested for leading a gang of kidnappers in northern Mexico.
Luis Ricardo Gonzalez Garcia , 32, helmed a gang of 16 people who began kidnapping victims in the Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas and Coahuila states in 2009, according to Jorge Domene, spokesman for the state government of Nuevo Leon.
When arrested, authorities said he was carrying a 9mm handgun and an ID with a different name, Javier Aguirre Cardenas. He was also known by the nickname “El Matute,” which is sometimes used in Latin American slang to mean “the cop.”
He is accused of ordering the September kidnapping of a 70-year-old man, the father of the mayor of a suburb of Monterrey, Mexico. The hostage was later found dead.
Domene told reporters that the suspect served in the Marines from 1998 to 2002 and then worked as a police officer in Texas from 2002 to 2009. He allegedly moved to Monterrey, Mexico, in 2009. He was captured in a Monterrey suburb on Oct. 19, but his arrest was not announced until this week. His alleged accomplices were arrested in separate operations starting in October.
U.S. authorities did not immediately respond to requests to confirm that Gonzalez Garcia had been a Marine.
On Sept. 25, kidnappers snatched Jorge Luis Martinez Martinez, the father of the mayor of General Zuazua, a town 15 miles northeast of Monterrey. A ransom was paid for the 70-year-old victim’s release, but he was found murdered in Coahuila state several weeks later.
Kidnapping has become rampant throughout Mexico. A survey by the country’s National Statistics Institute estimated that only 1 percent of kidnapping victims report crimes to authorities, and that the annual total of kidnappings in Mexico in 2012 might have topped 105,000. As reported by McClatchy in October, the perpetrators are sometimes found to be law enforcement officers.
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