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Mexican Police Arrest Chief Suspect in Murder of Poet Javier Sicilia’s Son

By Harriet Staff

We’ve written a bit about poet and activist Javier Sicilia, who is currently leading thousands in a grassroots movement to reshape the Mexican government’s attitude and policies in its war against drug-related violence (nearly 40,000 people have been killed since president Felipe Cualdaron militarized the struggle against cartels after taking office in February of 2006). Sicilia’s son was among the murdered, his body and six others left for dead in March as a supposed message for the government to cease its “war on drugs.” Sicilia has demanded that authorities solve the crime and arrest those responsible.

Now, according to Fox News Latino, Mexican police have arrested Julio de Jesus Radilla, a lead suspect in the murder of Juan Francisco Sicilia. As they report:

Radilla is the suspected leader of the Pacifico Sur drug cartel in Morelos, while the other two suspects, identified as Jose Luis Luquin Delgado and Valentin Ortiz Lopez, served under him in a drug-distribution and security capacity, respectively.

Authorities arrested the suspects at two homes in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, and also confiscated several firearms in their possession, the statement said.

Before he was taken into custody, Radilla–who bore a wound above one of his eyes when presented to the media–reportedly fired gunshots at the police.

Reuters reports that Radilla “is believed to be a leader of the South Pacific cartel run by kingpin Hector Beltran Leyva, which is fighting rivals for control of Cuernavaca and the strategic Pacific resort city of Acapulco.” Also known as “El Negro,” Radilla’s arrest is the second one in two weeks, as police took in Victor Valdez, known as “El Gordo Varilla” (The Big Stick), in Cuernavaca last week. Valdez is accused of being the second-in-command in the cartel.

In related news, 500 villagers escaped violence in the western state of Michoacan and took refuge at a shelter set up at a local swimming park, reports the Deseret News.

Michoacan state Civil Defense Director Carlos Mandujano said about 500 people spent Tuesday night at the primitive water park in the town of Buenavista Tomatlan, with most sleeping under open thatched-roof structures.

Mandujano said state authorities were providing sleeping mats, blankets and food for those in the shelter.

Residents told local authorities that gunbattles between rival drug cartel factions had made it too dangerous for them to stay in outlying hamlets.

The fighting is believed to involve rival factions of the Michoacan-based La Familia drug cartel, some of whose members now call themselves “The Knights Templar.”

Posted in Poetry News on Thursday, May 26th, 2011 by Harriet Staff.