An audacious suspected hitman and extortionist entered a police station yesterday to inquire about his girlfriend’s drug arrest. He did not leave of his own accord.
Authorities announced that a top suspect in last year’s deadly attack in Mexico City’s popular Plaza Garibaldi was taken into custody in the city’s northwestern borough of Azcapotzalco.
Police said José Mauricio “El Tomate (The Tomato)” Hernández Gasca, a suspected hitman with the Unión de Tepito gang, was detained when he went to check on his girlfriend, who had been arrested several hours earlier for selling cocaine on the street.
Police did not initially recognize Hernández, who had grown facial hair and lost weight since security cameras captured his face during the Garibaldi attack on September 14. But a fellow gang member in custody did and offered to identify him to police in exchange for his freedom.
Police promptly took the 25-year-old into custody and turned him over to the Attorney General’s Office.
Authorities believe that Hernández and Víctor Hugo Ramírez, the 23-year-old leader of the Tepito gang who was arrested in March, led last September’s so-called “mariachi massacre” in Plaza Garibaldi, a square in downtown Mexico City famous for its musicians.
Three men dressed in mariachi costumes opened fire on a bar located in a corner of the square, killing six people and wounding seven others, before fleeing on motorcycles.
Authorities say the attack was an unsuccessful attempt on the life of Sergio Flores Concha, leader of the Fuerza Anti-Unión, a rival gang to the Unión de Tepito.
The bloody rivalry between the two, both of which boast alliances with major drug cartels in Mexico, has been as as the cause of a surge in violent crime in the capital in recent months.
Authorities revealed that they expect Hernández’s trial to be an easy conviction and a victory for law enforcement owing to a large body of evidence and eyewitnesses of the Garibaldi attack.