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Barrio Azteca gang member from El Paso pleads guilty to racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to import heroin

A Barrio Azteca (BA) gang member pleaded guilty Thursday for his participation in a racketeering conspiracy, announced officials with United States Attorney’s Office, Western District of Texas.

32-year-old Luis Humberto Hernandez Celis, aka Pac, of El Paso, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone to racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to import heroin, cocaine and marijuana.

The court has not yet set a sentencing date.

According to information presented in court, beginning in or around 2009, Hernandez Celis was an associate of the BA. During that time, Hernandez Celis used violence or threats of violence to advance BA criminal activities, including stealing cars, managing drug distribution points and collecting quota money for a BA leader in Juarez.

According to court documents, since Jan. 1, 2003, members and associates of the BA have engaged in a host of criminal activity committed, including drug trafficking, extortion, money laundering, kidnapping and murder, including the March 13, 2010, murders in Juarez of U.S. consulate employee Leslie Ann Enriquez Catton, her husband Arthur Redelfs and Jorge Alberto Salcido Ceniceros, the husband of another U.S. consulate employee.

Thirty-five members and associates of the BA gang, including Hernandez Celis, were charged in a third superseding indictment unsealed in March 2011 with various counts of racketeering, murder, drug offenses, money laundering and obstruction of justice.

Officials stated ff the 35 defendants charged, 33 have been apprehended. Of those defendants, 25 have pleaded guilty, one defendant committed suicide while imprisoned during his trial and one defendant was found guilty at trial.

Hernandez Celis was among three defendants, along with Ricardo Valles de la Rosa, aka Chino, and Alberto Nunez Payan, aka Fresa, recently extradited from Mexico. Three other defendants are pending extradition from Mexico.

U.S. and Mexican law enforcement are actively seeking to apprehend the two remaining fugitives in this case: Luis Mendez and Eduardo Ravelo, who is an FBI Top 10 Most Wanted Fugitive.

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