Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Presumed cartel leader freed due to police error—and rearrested

A federal judge ordered the release of a suspected cartel leader in Tabasco on Monday due to police error, but he won’t leave prison because state authorities reactivated a previous criminal procedure against him.

The judge said that José Trinidad Alberto de la Cruz Miranda, also known as El Pelón de Playas del Rosario, was not required to stand trial on charges of possession of military-grade weapons because there were errors in the police report detailing his arrest.

Following the ruling, the Tabasco Attorney General’s Office reopened a case against de la Cruz for possession of stolen goods, meaning that the presumed leader of the Pelón de Playas del Rosario Cartel will remain in preventative custody.

De la Cruz was arrested by the National Guard and Federal Police officers on December 30 after allegedly robbing a grocery store truck at gunpoint. The night of the same day, narco-banners signed by the cartel appeared in Villahermosa demanding the release of El Pelón, and at least five cars were set on fire in the city.

Residents of Villa Playas del Rosario, de la Cruz’s hometown, marched on December 31 to demand El Pelón’s release, while pieces of a human body appeared on a bridge in Villahermosa on January 4 alongside a cardboard sign that warned the judge that he would face consequences if he didn’t acquit him.

It is unclear whether the pressure and intimidation were factors in the decision reached by the judge. It is not uncommon for suspected criminals to be released in Mexico due to inconsistencies in police reports detailing their arrests.

Tabasco Governor Adán Augusto López Hernández said later on Monday that a state judge had revoked the release order issued by the federal judge. De la Cruz will spend at least the next 10 days in prison before attending a hearing on the possession of stolen goods charges, he said.

El Pelón was convicted on the charges and given a three-year prison sentence in September last year. However, his legal team appealed the decision and de la Cruz was released on the condition that he attend court on a weekly basis to sign before a judge.

The suspected cartel chief failed to comply with the requirement, making him a fugitive from justice until his capture on the penultimate day of last year.

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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