July 2, 2010 / 7:37 PM / 10 years ago

Mexico arrests man for killing U.S. consulate staffer

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican police have arrested a drug gang hitman who authorities say ordered the murder of a U.S. consulate worker because she was thought to have given visas to members of a rival gang.

Two other people, including the woman’s American husband, were shot dead in their cars on March 13 in the violence-plagued Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez.

Police captured Jesus Chavez, thought to work for the Juarez cartel, late on Thursday in Ciudad Juarez, federal police said in a statement on Friday.

At the time of the attack, President Barack Obama said he was “outraged” by the murders and the State Department tightened its security for staff across northern Mexico.

Police said Chavez, who was paraded with several associates before reporters on Friday, confessed to ordering the murders. Nicknamed “The Camel,” he is accused of ordering gunmen to shoot the U.S. consulate employee and her husband as they left a consular social event.

On a nearby street, police said hitmen also killed a Mexican man married to a consulate employee after they left the same event, mistaking his car for that of the targeted woman.

More than 26,000 people have died in drug violence across Mexico over the past 3-1/2 years. While authorities have made tens of thousands of arrests this year alone, very few suspects are convicted and serve time.

Police said Chavez also confessed to taking part in the murder of 13 students at a birthday party who were mistaken for drug gang members.

Reporting by Patrick Rucker; editing Jason Lange and Todd Eastham

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