Mexican hitman confesses to 1500 murders
A former Mexican hitman has confessed to killing a staggering 1,500 people.
Jesus Ernesto Chávez Castillo said he could not be sure of the exact figure because he stopped counting at 800.
The one-man killing machine has turned government witness against his ruthless boss who ordered many of the hits.
Arturo Gallegos Castrellón, head of the Barrio Azteca drugs gang, was extradited from Mexico to the US to stand trial for the murder of three people driving home from a US consulate party in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, in 2010.
Chávez is the star witness against him in the federal trail in El Paso, Texas.
His evidence about bloodbaths organised by the gang has horrified the nation.
Chavez testified that he had a daily murder quota to meet to instill terror in police, politicians and the public.
He gave evidence of how Castrellon grew Barrio Azteca from a Texas prison gang into a Murder Inc of thousands of members stretching across the US and Mexico.
They acted as contract killers for one of Mexico's most deadly drug organisations, the Juarez Cartel.
Chavez said his gang earned Juarez, which is just across the Mexican border from El Paso, the title of “Murder Capital of the World” by killing thousands of people over a four-year period.
Chavez told jurors he often beheaded or dismembered his victims as a means to impress his boss, Castrellon.
The goal of each murder was to make it as brutal as possible so “that it would be big news.”
Explaining why he had turned against his boss Chavez said: “I feel I did the right thing, since I did so much wrong.”
Chávez told the court that his notorious drugs gang received training in murder and mayhem from a Mexican cartel.
Castrellon is on trial for ordering the murders of U.S. Consulate worker Lesley Enriquez, her husband, El Paso County Sheriff's Officer Arthur Redfels, and Jorge Alberto Salcido Ceniceros, husband of another consulate employee on March 13, 2010.
The victims were gunned down after they left a children’s party.
Mexican marine stands over two victims.
The couple's one-year-old baby was found unharmed in the back seat of their car.
Authorities believe the victims were mistaken for rival gang members who mistook their white Honda car.
When 35 members of the Barrio Azteca Gang were arrested in 2010 the number of murders in Juarez fell from 3,622 that year to 2,086 in 2011 and “just” 751 in 2012.
Chávez has admitted killing 800 people in the Mexican town between January and August of 2009.
He says he stopped counting after 800, but he estimates that his lifetime total tally of victims is around 1500.
Additionally, he supervised a group of hitmen who killed more than 2,000 people in drug wars with rival cartels.
Mexican police arrested Castrellon and associates in November 2010 and authorities extradited him to the US in June 2012.
Prosecutors claim that he ordered as many as 80% of the gang’s thousands of killings in the 2009 and 2010 drug wars.
Chávez is giving evidence in exchange for a lighter sentence.
His elderly parents have fled Mexico for the US and are being paid by the US government.
Chávez says he believes his wife and stepdaughter, who he hasn’t seen since 2010, are attempting to do the same.
Federal officials believe Castrellon has put out a contract on them in retaliation.
Castrellon confessed to Mexican police that he ordered the killing of the consulate murders and to other massacres.
But he now claims that he confessed only after three days of torture.
He claims police applied electrical shocks to his testicles, hanged and beat him, and raped his wife.
US District Judge Kathleen Cardone has ruled that the confession will be admitted in court.