EDINBURG — Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño has become the target of death threats from a member of a dangerous gang that has ties to Mexican drug cartels.
The threats have forced the sheriff and his deputies to take precautions, he said.
“As an elected official, and one with such a high-profile position, I don’t expect people to always agree with me,” Treviño said. “But when you make a threat against my life, one of my family members or one of my deputies, that is over the top.”
Sheriff’s investigators are looking for two gang members believed to be behind the threats against Treviño and his staff.
Carlos Roberto “El Loco” Medina Cantu contacted the Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 25, making direct threats against Treviño, his family and investigator Alfredo Avila, who had been investigating a kidnapping case involving Medina, court records show. The man later called saying he was going to kill everyone at the Sheriff’s Office.
Medina also called Avila’s department-issued cellphone and made direct threats against him and his family, records show.
Medina has been identified as a member of the Partido Revolucionario Mexicano gang, a group made up of criminal illegal immigrants who have direct ties to Mexican cartels and organized crime.
Also known as the Borrachos de Pancho Villa, the gang operates mostly in South Texas, but has ties throughout the state, Treviño said.
“This is the same group that was tied to a kidnapping attempt that resulted in the shooting of my deputy,” he said, referencing an October 2011 incident he previously called the first bona fide case of spillover violence from Mexico’s drug war in Hidalgo County. “That kidnapping was carried out under orders of Mexican organized crime.”
Medina has a lengthy criminal history, including drug charges, robbery, kidnapping and a 1999 capital murder charge that was dismissed for lack of evidence.
Recently, Medina and the PRM have been linked to the July 18 slaying of Reyes Bocanegra, who was kidnapped from a seafood restaurant and later executed, the sheriff said. Medina made the threats after investigators were on his trail, Treviño said.
While he doesn’t believe the PRM has sanctioned the actions against him or his staff, the intelligence they have gathered shows the gang has not done anything to stop it, either, Treviño said.
“The current information that we have is that he is in Mexico, but he is able to cross illegally almost at will,” the sheriff said.
Medina is considered armed and dangerous and is known to drive a maroon 2006 Chrysler 300.
Treviño will conduct a series of operations to crack down on existing PRM members in the area, he said.
“As a law enforcement official, especially one who is so outspoken about security issues, threats are commonplace,” the sheriff said. “However, because of the persons involved, it makes it a more delicate situation.”
Treviño’s most recent threat is believed to have come from a member of a violent gang that had direct ties to Mexican organized crime — making it a very dangerous group, he said.
“I am more apprehensive because of the current environment in South Texas and in Mexico,” the sheriff said.
NOT THE FIRST THREAT
Sheriff’s investigators are also looking for another man who has also made direct threats against Treviño’s life, his family and another employee from the department.
On July 25, Gustavo Lozano called the Sheriff’s Office identifying himself as Genaro Garza, a Mexican police officer, and said Treviño and his staff should not have launched a narcotics investigation, and since they had done so, he would kill the sheriff.
“Through our investigation we identified him as Gustavo Cruz Lozano and discovered that he has a history of threats against law enforcement,” the sheriff said.
“These threats are not going to deter us from doing our job,” the sheriff said.
Ildefonso Ortiz covers courts, law enforcement and general assignments for The Monitor. He can be reached at email@example.com and (956) 683-4437.
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