ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Mexican drug cartels tend to avoid using violence in the United States, but 53-year-old Danny Baca proved to be an exception.
Baca was shot 22 times with a semiautomatic assault rifle. His body was burned and left on Pajarito Mesa in January 2008.
Working for the Juárez Cartel, Baca allegedly was smuggling marijuana and cocaine from Juárez to El Paso in hidden compartments in a white Ford Mustang.
From El Paso, Baca would transport the marijuana to cities and towns chosen by his cartel bosses.
But Baca returned to Albuquerque with at least part of the marijuana load and sold it.
The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office said Baca was killed over a relatively small amount of money – $7,000 – but the cartel was sending a message about drug rip-offs.
Deputies have an arrest warrant for Jaime Veleta, 34, for killing Baca and identify him as a member of the Juárez Cartel.
His three accomplices in the Baca killing have been arrested.
Among them was his cousin, Mario Talavera, 35, a U.S. citizen, who was tracked down by U.S. marshals and arrested by Mexican police in Chihuahua in 2015 and deported to New Mexico to face kidnapping and murder charges.
Last summer, Talavera pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and kidnapping.
Veleta remains at large, probably in Mexico, and the U.S. Marshals Service has put him on its most-wanted list in New Mexico.