A once notorious Guanajuato cartel leader has been handed a 60-year prison sentence for the kidnapping of a businesswoman.
José Antonio Yépez Ortiz, known by the moniker El Marro, was the leader of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel, a fuel theft, extortion and drug trafficking organization.
He was arrested on August 2, 2020, at a property in a small town in Juventino Rosas, a Guanajuato municipality about 75 kilometers southeast of the state capital, Guanajuato city, ending a 1 1/2-year-long manhunt. The businesswoman was found on the property and freed.
Yépez faces further charges of homicide, fuel theft and organized crime.
Five other cartel members were on trial along with the former leader. They are all being held in different prisons, with Yépez in the maximum-security Altiplano prison in México state. The judgment was announced remotely from Valle de Santiago, Guanajuato.
The governor of Guanajuato, Diego Sinhue Rodríguez Vallejo, praised legal institutions after the sentence. “We have strong institutions to guarantee justice with the full weight of the law for those who violate it. We will not stop until we achieve the … peace that the good people [of Guanajuato] deserve to live in,” he said.
The Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel has been engaged in a bloody turf war with the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) since Yépez publicly declared war in 2017.
Guanajuato is destined to be named the state with the most homicides for the fourth consecutive year, pending data for December. From January through November, it recorded 3,239 homicides, ahead of Baja California which saw 2,800.
Celebrations for the New Year were short-lived in the state: in just the first seven days of 2021, it recorded 60 homicides.
President López Obrador has previously questioned the efforts of Governor Rodríguez and Attorney General Carlos Zamarripa to combat crime and violence.