A year after former Jalisco governor Jorge Aristóteles Sandoval was murdered in Puerto Vallarta, no one has been arrested for the crime even though the gunman and the masterminds have reportedly been identified and a motive established.
Sandoval, Institutional Revolutionary Party governor from 2013 to 2018, was shot and killed at a Puerto Vallarta restaurant/bar in the early hours of December 18, 2020.
According to a report by the newspaper Milenio based on information provided by Jalisco authorities, the person who murdered the ex-governor was Colombian Carlos Andrés Rivera Varela, a Puerto Vallarta plaza chief for the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG).
Rivera, aka “La Firma,” is a trusted hit man of CJNG chief Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera Cervantes, Milenio said.
He is not just in charge of the CJNG’s operations in Puerto Vallarta but also personally responsible for murdering politicians, police officers and lawyers, the newspaper said.
The report also said that Rivera is linked to the attempted murder of Mexico City police chief Omar García Harfuch in June 2020.
Milenio said that Jalisco authorities have identified a couple as being behind the murder of Sandoval but didn’t name them.
Three arrest warrants have been issued for people wanted in connection with the murder.
Sources within the Jalisco Attorney General’s Office told Milenio that the murder is linked to the homicide of real estate entrepreneur Felipe Tomé Velázquez. He was abducted and murdered in Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit, a few weeks before Sandoval was killed.
According to the sources, the ex-governor and Tomé operated several real estate businesses in Puerto Vallarta but their involvement was hidden behind a network of prestanombres, or front men. Tomé was known as Lord Amparos, or Lord Injunctions, because he used such legal instruments to benefit his real estate interests.
Through injunctions he obtained, Tomé was “awarded several properties to build real estate complexes in various parts of the country,” Milenio said.
“According to the sources consulted, Felipe Tomé encroached on several properties in Puerto Vallarta whose owners were members of the Jalisco cartel, an action that led to his death and that of the ex-governor.”
The newspaper said th investigation has been complicated by the murder of some of Sandoval’s closest collaborators, including two of his bodyguards and his lawyer.
On June 6, the lawyer José Luis Duarte, aka Tony Duarte, was murdered in Guadalajara. Jalisco Attorney General’s Office sources told Milenio that Duarte had links to Óscar Orlando Nava Valencia, aka “El Lobo,” leader of a criminal group allied with the Sinaloa Cartel, an arch rival of the CJNG.
The lawyer’s son, Óscar Duarte, was shot dead in Guadalajara four days ago, while one of Sandoval’s former bodyguards was killed in November and another was murdered this month. Milenio indicated that those homicides could also be linked to the murder of the ex-governor, but didn’t explain exactly how they complicated investigations into that crime.
The newspaper also said the investigations were further complicated by the release from prison of Raúl Campos Padilla, a man known as “El Charro” who allegedly has links to the CJNG. He was arrested just hours after Sandoval’s murder outside the ex-governor’s Puerto Vallarta apartment.
The complex in which the apartment is located, called Icon, was built by José de Jesús Gallegos Álvarez, who was Sandoval’s tourism minister until he was murdered in 2013 by CJNG members, Milenio reported.
With reports from Milenio