EL PASO, Texas – After his Juarez cartel boss was arrested in Mexico last year, Jose Daniel Gonzalez Galeana left town — taking refuge in a high-end El Paso neighborhood.
He tried to hide and cut ties with his one-time colleagues in Ciudad Juarez, just across the Rio Grande from El Paso. And he started talking to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials about the drug gang's activities.
But his past caught up to him, and El Paso police say he was shot to death on May 15 on a quiet cul-de-sac, for being an informant, in a shooting orchestrated by Ruben Rodriguez Dorado, a fellow midlevel cartel official and ICE informant.
El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said Gonzalez's sudden disappearance from Mexico, in the wake of the arrest of cartel lieutenant Pedro "El Tigre" (The Tiger) Aranas Sanchez and a raid on a cartel warehouse in Mexico, raised questions among cartel leaders. Gonzalez quickly became a target, Allen said.
"(Rodriguez) was told to find him in the U.S.," Allen said Tuesday.
After more than a year in hiding — police say Gonzalez knew he would be killed if he was found — Rodriguez located him.
Allen said Rodriguez, on the order of cartel lieutenant Jesus Aguayo Salas, planned the killing and hired an 18-year-old U.S. Army soldier and a 17-year-old man to kill Gonzalez.
Gonzalez, who police said was living in El Paso on a visa given to him by ICE officials, was shot eight times in front of his two-story stucco house.
ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa declined to comment on the case Tuesday.
"As a matter of policy, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) does not confirm or deny identification of confidential sources of information," she said in a written statement.
Rodriguez, Pfc. Michael Jackson Apodaca and Christopher Duran were arrested late Monday on capital murder charges. Each is being held on $1 million bail. A warrant has been issued for Aguayo, who also faces a capital murder charge. Allen said more arrests are possible.
It was not immediately clear if Apodaca or Duran had lawyers. Online court documents didn't list attorneys for them, and police said they didn't know.
Rodriguez's lawyer, Russell M. Aboud did not respond to a phone message Tuesday.
Apodaca, a native of El Paso, enlisted in September and was assigned to the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade. A Fort Bliss spokeswoman, Jean Offutt, declined to discuss the specifics of Apodaca's case.
Allen said Apodaca, the alleged shooter, and Duran, who authorities said told them he drove the getaway car, were paid "quite a robust amount of money ... under $10,000, in that area."
Investigators believe the trio met through one of Rodriguez's younger relatives.
"He was the older guy, he provided the alcohol, the party locations," police Lt. Alfred Lowe said. "And he recruited these people to do his bidding."
According to charging documents, Rodriguez told police Monday that like Gonzalez, he was a midlevel member of the cartel, which he referred to as the "Compania." He said he coordinated surveillance by "following intended victims up until their execution in Mexico," and that he had been ordered to track down Gonzalez, police said.
Apodaca and Duran, according to police, both admitted being paid to kill Gonzalez. Police do not believe either man was a member of the cartel.
Lowe said ICE officials knew Gonzalez was wanted by the cartel when they gave him the visa that allowed him to live in El Paso.
The night of the killing, Rodriguez, Apodaca and Duran tracked down Gonzalez at a relative's home in nearby Canutillo, followed him home and killed him, investigators said. A witness reported hearing an argument in Spanish just before the shooting, police said.