Tuesday, August 11, 2009

US Soldier Charged in Mexican Cartel Killing

Via Yahoo! News (AP) -

An 18-year-old U.S. Army soldier and two other men have been charged with capital murder in the contract killing of a midlevel Mexican drug cartel official who was also a U.S. informant.

Pfc. Michael Jackson Apodaca, who was based at Fort Bliss, near El Paso, and Christopher Duran, 17, were hired by 30-year-old Ruben Rodriguez Dorado to carry out the May 15 shooting of Jose Daniel Gonzalez Galeana, police said Tuesday. Gonzalez was shot eight times outside his pricey El Paso home.

The three men were arrested Monday night and were being held on $1 million bond each. It was not immediately clear if any of the men had retained a lawyer. Online court records did not list an attorney for any of the men, and police said they did not know either.

Gonzalez, a lieutenant in the Juarez drug cartel, was also an informant for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, according to three U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about it.

A law enforcement official familiar with the case told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Rodriguez, who police believe orchestrated Gonzalez's killing, is also a lieutenant in the Juarez cartel.

That official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak about the case.

Details of Apodaca's military service were not immediately available.

"Anytime someone does something like this, and a soldier in our case, it's terrible," Fort Bliss spokeswoman Jean Offutt said, without commenting directly on the case.

Before the killing, Gonzalez lived what appeared to be a routine life in an upscale east El Paso neighborhood where his neighbors include El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen and El Paso County District Attorney Jaime Esparza. Business records show that he ran a freight company from his two-story stucco house, along with a day care and an auto business.

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