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Tijuana Scions of Privilege Alleged to Be Drug Hit Men

Narcotics: Court document says members of \o7 los juniors \f7 elite were recruited to work for reputed kingpins.

November 13, 1996|ANNE-MARIE O'CONNOR | TIMES STAFF WRITER

One of the young men who shot hoops at the Hodoyans' basketball court, Gustavo Miranda Santa Cruz, is also named in the court documents. Miranda was gunned down as he waited to drive across the U.S. border with his wife Oct. 3 and told authorities he believed Valdez and Alfredo Hodoyan ordered his killing, though he had participated in "criminal actions" along with them, Molina's statement said. Miranda is now under guard at an undisclosed facility and, according to Molina, has provided information to authorities.

No motive for his shooting was given, but friends of Miranda say his mother, a financial advisor and insurance agent, had been encouraging her son to distance himself from the other juniors. Gustavo had even begun selling policies at her modern Tijuana office suite, employees said. His mother, absent from her office since the shooting, could not be reached for comment.

"Since the American godfathers emerged in the 1920s, we have known that when someone joins, they can never quit. They know too much," said Dr. Manuel Molina Bellini, head of a Tijuana methadone treatment program for heroin addicts and an expert in Tijuana's youth narcotics culture. "The kids that get involved in this think only of adventure and easy money. They never imagine they could get themselves killed."

Also named in the court documents is another childhood friend of Valdez and Hodoyan, Fabian Martinez. Friends recall Martinez as such a painfully shy child that his father once organized a baseball team to encourage him to play with other kids.

Mexican authorities say he is a fugitive pistolero whose alias is Tiburon, or shark. According to an Oct. 3 statement by the Mexico attorney general's office, he has racked up a bloody official resume in shootings in which at least a dozen have died. Victims include a Tijuana newspaper photographer, a rival trafficker killed with his wife and child, and a federal police agent shot 30 times, the statement said.

Hector Villareal, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, said Martinez is wanted in Mexico in connection with the slaying of Ibarra and others.

Martinez, Hodoyan and unspecified other gunmen "planned and arranged the murder" of Ibarra, according to U.S. prosecutor Curiel's Oct. 15 declaration, filed in San Diego federal court.

Martinez allegedly was one of the triggermen who sprayed Ibarra's taxi with gunfire, killing two bodyguards and the cabdriver along with him, an Oct. 3 Mexico attorney general's statement said.

Two other juniors--Eduardo Leon and Fabian Partida--also were named in the U.S. files as recruits to the Arellano organization, but no additional details were provided.

The disclosures have fed a frenzied season of gossip and dismay in Tijuana.

"No one really cared about these guys as long as they were just killing each other," editor Blancornelas said. "It was only when active-duty police commanders began to die that people began to pay attention."

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