El Chapo aide held in Chicago says Mexican military tortured him

and Barb Markoff and Ross Weidner
Tuesday, June 13, 2017 05:47PM
CHICAGO - An accused security aide to notorious drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is alleging that members of the Mexican military repeatedly tortured and humiliated him and threatened to kill his family, according to newly filed documents in Chicago federal court.

Jesus Raul Beltran-Leon, 33, is being held in the MCC-Chicago and a defendant in the el Chapo drug trafficking and money laundering case. Investigators say Beltran-Leon worked as a bodyguard for one of Chapo's sons, Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar.
Beltran-Leon's attorneys claim that he "endured extensive torture when he was arrested" at 1 am on Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014 at the home of his parents in Culiacan, Mexico. He is apparently an American citizen according to the compelling, 26-page description of the alleged asphyxiation, blindfolding, beating, whipping and restraint.

The accused operative for Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel, a swarm of heavily armed members of the Mexican Navy (Marines) seized every member of the Beltran-Leon family. "The invaders punched Jesus violently and threatened to kill him" the filing states. "Via lights attached to the intruders' rifles, Jesus was able to distinguish helmets, goggles, ski masks, bulletproof vests and numerous guns. Because none of the invaders identified themselves as government agents or provided any type of warrant, Jesus believed he was being kidnapped."

Wearing old undershorts, Beltran-Leon says that he was quickly blindfolded and his hands tied behind his back. "While en route to the kitchen, the group repeatedly bludgeoned Jesus on the back of his head and neck with their fists and with hard objects. In the kitchen, Jesus' abductors held him down, placed plastic bags over Jesus' face, and began to asphyxiate him while others punched him in the abdomen, which forced the air in Jesus' lungs to expel faster."

The allegations of torture by Mexican soldiers are the basis of an evidentiary challenge by Beltran-Leon's American attorneys, who will appear in court tomorrow morning at the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago.

Beltran-Leon's recounting of the alleged torture includes a description of threats against his family. "Now, you son of a bitch, are you going to cooperate or do you think that your daughter can withstand a plastic bag?" The arresting agents are said to have threatened to bring Beltran-Leon's infant daughter to the kitchen and repeatedly threatened to gang-rape his wife. They allegedly said "We are going to kill your aunt with a shot to the head or maybe we'll just hang her from a bridge."

The Chicago court filing refers to "approximately ten plastic bags" that were placed over Beltran-Leon's face every two to three minutes, ripping them a bit from time to time to provide a small amount of oxygen.

"Due to the lack of oxygen and intense pain, Jesus briefly lost consciousness several times....This conduct firmly convinced Jesus that his death was imminent."

The torture continued for one hour, according to newly-filed records.

Beltran-Leon claims that the arresting officers demanded information about members of el Chapo's drug team "or they would immediately massacre his family." Shortly thereafter, the detainee was placed in a vehicle and driven away from the home, according to the legal papers.

The vehicle stopped in field and Beltran-Leon was made to complete paperwork and fingerprints. "The abductors then removed all of Jesus' clothing to determine whether he had tattoos, moles, and other
identifying characteristics. The examiners were indifferent to the many bruises and lacerations that were the result of his abductors' repeated assaults. Jesus concluded that his brutal injuries did not phase his captors because they were part of a death squadron" states the Chicago court filing.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney in Chicago declined to comment Tuesday afternoon on the allegations of brutality and torture. Beltran-Leon's attorney Stephen Ralls of Tucson, Arizona who wrote the explosive report to the court said that he may speak publicly following tomorrow's hearing in Chicago.

Beltran-Leon claims that he was put in several of vehicles and taken to numerous locations-ending in a public park. "As he stood trembling and broken, Jesus was again assaulted with loud verbal threats that he would be raped" states the court filing. He was then allegedly wrap like mummy from his ankles to his head in cloth and dumped head-first, into a barrel of water. Shortly thereafter he pledged "that he would fully cooperate" although there is no plea deal, cooperation agreement or any indication of assistance with U.S. authorities, according to court records.

The alleged torture continued for hours, according to Beltran-Leon, and at one point included someone who was "with" the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA has not immediately offered comment on the allegation. Beltran-Leon then said he was taken to a Mexican military barracks and eventually examined by a military doctor nearly 24 hours after authorities burst into his residence.

His attorneys say that "despite fact that Jesus' body displayed numerous deep bruises, cuts, and abrasions, the doctor's report indicated there were no signs of torture."

They also claim that "at one point, a woman from the United States Embassy briefly visited Jesus. During this visit, Jesus told the woman about the physical and psychological torture to which he had been subjected. He also explained that he believed he could die while in custody and desperately feared for the safety of his family. In response, the woman indicated that 'they were recording' and said she could do nothing to help Jesus."

Beltran-Leon's legal team says it will raise a motion to dismiss the indictment based on "outrageous government conduct...based on the barbaric torture Mr. Beltran-Leon endured."

He is charged in Chicago, along with numerous other alleged members of Joaquin "el Chapo" Guzman's ruthless drug cartel. El Chapo himself is being held and prosecuted in New York, on similar charges.
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