For more than a year, since first exposed by the ABC7 I-Team, incendiary allegations of torture at the hands of Mexican authorities have played out in a drug cartel case in Chicago.
Accused Sinaloa cartel trafficker Jesus Raul Beltran-Leon described suffocation, assault, beating and humiliation tactics used by Mexican police and soldiers following his arrest there in 2014.
Since his extradition to Chicago to stand trial, Beltran-Leon's attorneys have been fighting to have the charges thrown out due to "outrageous government conduct" in Mexico during which American law enforcement agents were on hand.
Now, Chief Judge Ruben Castillo has denied the motion to dismiss-but not without strong words against those responsible for the apparent torture.
The allegations paint a "...disturbing picture of law enforcement in Mexico" Judge Castillo wrote in his ruling. "From a human rights perspective, this is simply intolerable" he said.
Even though the top federal judge in Chicago seemed to acknowledge that the torture claims may well be true, he denied the motion to dismiss because prosecutors don't plan to use evidence garnered from the abuse. "At this point, there is nothing to suppress" observed Castillo.
As the I-Team first reported in June of 2017, Beltran-Leon said that his official Mexican captors rotated "ten plastic bags" over his head and used asphyxiation, blindfolding, beating, whipping and restraints against him.
The accused operative for El Chapo's cartel said that a swarm of heavily armed members of the Mexican Navy (Marines) seized every member of the his family. "The invaders punched Jesus violently and threatened to kill him" his attorneys stated. "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."
Despite the ruling against Beltran-Leon, Judge Castillo lashed out against U.S. officers who may have been involved in the torture. "The Court is also deeply disturbed by the accusation that American law enforcement agents may be condoning or turning a blind eye to these tactics" Castillo wrote in this week's decision.
Beltran-Leon has a hearing in Judge Castillo's court next Wednesday. 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.
Chief U.S. judge in Chicago riled by Mexico torture allegations
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