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California and the West

FBI Offers Reward in Tijuana Slaying

May 04, 2000|KEN ELLINGWOOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN DIEGO — In an unusual tactic, the FBI is offering a reward for information about the Feb. 27 assassination of Tijuana Municipal Police Chief Alfredo de la Torre Marquez.

Placing advertisements in several Spanish-language newspapers throughout Southern California, the FBI is asking for information on the slaying and "other related matters." The Mexican government has sought the FBI's help--although it did not request a reward--in searching for two suspects believed to have crossed into the United States after the shooting.

The reward amount was not specified. Any payout would depend on the value of the information, said FBI Special Agent John Iannarelli in San Diego.

De la Torre died in a hail of more than 100 bullets as he was driving alone to his office on a cross-town expressway. The killing came amid a yearlong string of slayings largely attributed to the drug trade, which is dominated by the Tijuana-based Arellano Felix cartel.

Ten days after the chief's slaying, seven men were arrested and allegedly confessed to Baja California authorities that they killed De la Torre and 14 other people in recent months at the behest of the son of a drug trafficker from the state of Sinaloa who hoped to elbow into the border narcotics market.

At least three other suspects in the slaying sought by Baja authorities remained at large. The FBI agreed to help search for two of the suspects--Juan de Dios Montenegro and Praxedis Osuna--both of them Tijuana police officers. Iannarelli said the FBI was awaiting copies of arrest warrants.

He said a reward for information in the slaying "was something the FBI offered. The Mexican authorities didn't ask us to put up any money."

Mexican drug gangs are known to hire gunmen who live on the U.S. side and violence has at times spilled into San Diego. The U.S. government has indicted one of the three brothers reputed to run cross-border trafficking operations. Ramon Arellano Felix is on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list.

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