Authorities said Ravelo assumed leadership after a series of killings along the border eight years ago. To get to the top, they said, Ravelo betrayed his predecessor, repeatedly stabbing him and then shooting him in the neck.
His ascent was helped, authorities said, by the 2008 arrests in El Paso of six Barrio Azteca leaders, all of whom were handed sentences of life in prison. Ravelo was indicted with the others in the sweeping federal racketeering case. In all, 26 gang members were convicted or pleaded guilty, except for Ravelo, who was never caught.
Authorities said he has slipped undetected between Ciudad Juarez and El Paso, sometimes coming with bodyguards and an armored truck to recruit hit men or simply to visit family members on the U.S. side.
For the most part, however, authorities say Ravelo lies low, living modestly with his common-law wife and their children in the Ciudad Juarez hillsides. Investigators think his base of operations is a tattoo parlor, though they said he rarely frequented the shop now, especially after the consulate shootings.