Jose Guadalupe Diaz Diaz appeared in a U.S. District Court in El Paso, Texas to face charges in the March 13, 2010, deaths of Leslie Ann Enriquez and her husband, Arthur Redelfs, in Ciudad Juarez.
Prosecutors allege Diaz is a member of Barrio Azteca, a border gang with members in the U.S. and Mexico allied with the Juarez Cartel. Ten Mexican nationals, including Diaz, have been charged in connection with the murders of Enriquez and Redelfs, along with the death of Jorge Alberto Salcido Ceniceros, 37, a Mexican citizen and husband of a U.S. Consulate employee.
He was shot to death in his car in a separate shooting and his two children, ages 4 and 7, were wounded.
A total of 35 members and associates of the gang have been charged with racketeering, drug trafficking, extortion, money laundering, obstruction of justice and murder. One defendant, Luis Mendez, is still being sought.
Twenty-eight have pleaded guilty and one has been convicted. Another committed suicide while imprisoned and three others are awaiting extradition to the U.S. from Mexico.
The slayings came amid a surge in bloodshed along Mexico's border as drug cartels continue to battle one another and authorities. Barrio Azteca formed an alliance with "La Linea," which is part of the Juarez Cartel, and has fought against the Sinaloa Cartel formerly headed by imprisoned leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman for control of drug trafficking routes through Juarez and the Mexican state of Chihuahua.
Several U.S. citizens have been killed in Mexico's drug war in recent years, though it is rare for American government employees to be targeted.
Both Enriquez, 35, and Redelfs, 34, were fatally shot while in their car near the Santa Fe International Bridge that links El Paso to Ciudad Juarez. Their baby was found unharmed in the back seat.
Redelfs worked as a detention officer at the El Paso County Jail. It was not clear what Enriquez did in the Consulate.
Diaz faces up to life in prison if convicted.