A federal judge today ordered the immediate release from custody of an alleged gangster dubbed the “totoaba tzar,” ruling that his arrest was illegal.
Óscar Parra Aispuro was arrested by state police last week in Baja California, allegedly while traveling on the Mexicali-San Felipe highway with two bodyguards, who were also detained.
But the accused’s defense team presented evidence that the judge said proved his arrest didn’t occur as authorities said.
Federal authorities had identified Parra as the regional leader of a gang dedicated to trafficking drugs and the prized totoaba, an endangered fish whose swim bladder is considered a delicacy in some Asian countries and can fetch prices per kilogram in the thousands of dollars. He is also suspected to be a member of the Sinaloa Cartel.
At a hearing at the Federal Criminal Justice Center in Almoloya, México state, the presiding judge also ordered that Parra’s bodyguards, Alejandro Bastidas González and Carlos Bastidas Moreno, be freed and all three men later left the Altiplano maximum security prison.
According to Baja California authorities, the men were stopped by police at 6:50am on September 13 and detained after officers found seven firearms, 53.6 grams of methamphetamine, radios, cartridges and a bulletproof vest in their two vehicles.
However, the judge said that based on evidence presented by the defense “it was evident that the people were not detained in the terms reported by the state police, given that apparently three hours before they were violently removed from [Parra’s] home.”
That was proven, the judge said, “because it was shown that the property had damage to its doors and entrances as well as footprints from military-style boots in various parts of the house.”
Five witnesses testified that an armed group had entered Parra’s home by breaking down doors, claiming also that the men were beaten.
The wife of one of the men and a baby were allegedly at the address when the arrests occurred. The two vehicles in which state police said the men were traveling when they were arrested were also removed, witnesses said.
Lawyers presented video and audio evidence to substantiate their case.
In footage recorded by a business, the wife of one of the arrested men can be seen carrying her baby and asking the owners to borrow a telephone, allegedly so that she could locate her husband.
Other footage showed a convoy of state police cars chaperoning the two seized vehicles three hours before state police said the men were arrested.
Source: Milenio (sp)