Mexican gang leader sentenced to 60 years in prison

The leader of a notorious criminal gang that siphons gasoline from government fuel lines has been sentenced to 60 years in prison for kidnapping, state authorities say.

MEXICO CITY – The leader of a notorious criminal gang that sucked gasoline from government fuel pipes has been sentenced to 60 years in prison for kidnapping, according to the central Mexican state of Guanajuato.

José Antonio Yépez Ortiz was once one of Mexico’s most wanted suspects before his arrest on August 2, 2020, following a shootout with police. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador hailed the arrest at the time as “important, very important.”

The gang has long fought a bloody turf war with the Jalisco gang, and authorities blame him for much of the violence in the industrial and agricultural state of Guanajuato.

The state Attorney General’s office said late Friday that the man known as “El Marro” – which means “sledgehammer” – had been convicted by a district court. Local media say he still faces attempted murder, fuel robbery and organized crime charges.

Yépez Ortíz’s Santa Rosa de Lima gang began robbing freight trains and stealing fuel pipelines but branched out into extortion and other crimes – especially after López Obrador declared war on the hoses. pipeline and temporarily shut down fuel lines during his administration.

Yépez Ortiz is unusual among gang leaders for posting videos with emotional appeals to his followers, including a few months before his arrest in which he appeared to cry after several of his supporters and relatives were arrested. In another video at the same time, he threatens to join forces with the Sinaloa gang to fight Jalisco.

The turf battle with Jalisco has turned Guanajuato, with its foreign auto factories and tourist towns like San Miguel de Allende, into the most violent country in Mexico.

The Santa Rosa gang is not a drug cartel, but a powerful, violent gang that grew up in a farming village of the same name by stealing fuel and robbing trains.

It tried to build a support network among local residents by allowing them to take a small share of the loot of robberies. As government security efforts make fuel thefts more difficult, it has turned to extorting money from businesses like tortilla shops and auto and farm equipment dealers.

https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/mexico-gang-leader-sentenced-60-years-prison-82283594 Mexican gang leader sentenced to 60 years in prison

Emma Bowman

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