Chihuahua authorities have captured a man who they say is responsible for the murder of at least 17 people, the kidnappings of 58 business people and the extortion of hundreds more in Juárez over the last two years.
Lucio Muñoz Alvarado, alias "El Chacho," was arrested Thursday in the state of Durango, were he was negotiating by phone the ransom of his latest victim, an owner of a Juárez restaurant who was kidnapped in that city, authorities said.
Muñoz Alvarado is the alleged leader of a ring of 101 kidnappers and extortionists working with 31 criminal organizations in Juárez, all of them dismantled between January 2011 and January 2013, according to the Chihuahua Attorney General's Office.
The state attorney general's investigation revealed that Muñoz Alvarado allegedly put together all of the criminal organizations and gave members weapons and vehicles to commit the kidnappings and extortions.
According to the investigation, the first criminal organization that he put together was the "Banda del Nazi" or the "Nazi Gang", which was dismantled January 2011. The gang's members were arrested and told authorities about "El Chacho" and how he worked.
Authorities were then able to track 23 criminal organizations, most of them dedicated to kidnapping business owners in downtown Juárez, that had the same modus operandi as the "Banda del Nazi" and were operating under the orders of Muñoz Alvarado.
In addition, Juárez police officers were able to arrest eight extortionists working for another seven organizations under Muñoz Alvarado's orders. They revealed they extorted more that 100 businesses in downtown Juárez and in the Aztecas neighborhood. According to their testimonies, they confessed to having burned some of the businesses when the owners did not pay the extortion, authorities said.
The investigation says that Muñoz Alvarado also selected his victims and arranged their kidnappings. He allegedly ordered which victims could be liberated when the ransom was paid or who had to be killed when the payoff was not met, according to the investigation.
However, authorities said that some of the victims were killed even when the ransom was paid.
Muñoz Alvarado was always out of town when the crimes were committed and used several bank accounts, where the ransoms and extortions were deposited, to avoid being linked to the crimes or be arrested, according to authorities.
He also identified himself as a successful businessman in Juárez, where he is the owner of several businesses, including car lots in "La Curva" and bars in downtown, authorities said.
Authorities were finally able to track down Muñoz Alvarado Thursday in Gómez Palacios, Durango, where he was negotiating over the phone the ransom of the owner of a downtown restaurant who was kidnapped in Juárez.
Agents from the Chihuahua Attorney General's office rescued the victim, a 37-year-old woman who had been kidnapped since Jan. 12, a couple of days after Muñoz Alvarado was arrested in Gómez Palacios, with the help of Durango's state authorities.
Before he was arrested, "El Chacho" went through a liposuction procedure to change his physical appearance and changed his identity to José Guadalupe Hernández Camarena to avoid being recognized, authorities said.
Lorena Figueroa may be reached at email@example.com; 546-6129.