Here is an excerpt from Daniel Borunda, Alex Hinojosa and Marty Schladen's article in the El Paso Times:
"Mexican authorities captured the reputed leader of La Linea, a vicious group of thugs that carried out murders and terrorized Juárez for a drug cartel. José Antonio Acosta Hernández, also known as 'El Diego,' one of the highest-ranking bosses of the Juárez drug cartel, was reportedly arrested Friday after a shootout with authorities in a Chihuahua City neighborhood. Acosta was indicted this year in the killings of three people connected to the U.S. Consulate in Juárez... His arrest, according to one expert, may signal the end of the Juárez drug cartel and a downturn in the violence that has gripped Juárez and the state of Chihuahua. Acosta, who was reportedly flown to Mexico City after his capture, is believed to run operations for La Linea in Chihuahua City and Juárez and was arguably the most-wanted man in the state of Chihuahua... In recent weeks, narco-graffiti threatening the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Consulate employees appeared on public walls in Juárez and Chihuahua City. The messages telling the "gringos of the DEA" to quit meddling were signed 'Diego'... Many of the public threats from La Linea made frequent references to 'El Diego'... The capture of Acosta may be a new beginning for Juárez residents and a decrease in violence, said University of Texas at El Paso political science professor Tony Payan." Link to Full Article
Analysis: Chalk up another victory for the Calderón administration, as this is a nice one. There's no doubt that Acosta's arrest will have a detrimental impact on La Linea, and perhaps on the VCFO (Juárez cartel) as a whole. The big question is, of course, how much?
Acosta has been indicted in the US for alleged involvement in the attack on the three US Consulate employees, which makes him eligible for extradition. The only thing any narco fears is extradition. Dr Payan mentioned in the article something about Acosta providing good, useful intelligence about his organization and perhaps rivals. That's the key here, both to either preventing Acosta's extradition, reducing his sentence if he is sent to the US for trial (and assuming a conviction, of course), and bringing down the remnants of the VCFO. But will he talk?
No one can really say. Edgar "La Barbie" Valdez Villareal did, and so did Osiel Cárdenas Guillen. If the VCFO really is crumbling, Acosta may believe there's not much left to save - except his own rear end. La Linea has been a force to be reckoned with in Chihuahua for many years, and the VCFO is not a TCO to go quietly into the night - it's been fighting for its life against the Federation for quite some time now, and still maintains a presence in Juárez. However, there is a chance that Acosta could drive some pretty big nails into the VCFO's coffin; we'll see how that develops over the next few weeks and months.
But there's still the other question - how will the assumed demise of La Linea, and perhaps later on the VCFO - affect levels of violence in Juárez? Many people believe that if the VCFO were to concede or be destroyed, the Federation would win control of the Juárez plaza and peace would ensue. Unfortunately, that probably wouldn't be the case.
In past years, the violence in Ciudad Juárez has been a result of the turf battle between the VCFO and the Federation. But something happened in the last couple of years to change to rules - throw them out the window actually...the local drug trade exploded. There are something like 500 colonias, or neighborhoods, in Juárez, and each one has its own gang defending its turf - and dealing drugs. These gangs have joined in the bloodshed, and it's gotten to the point that no one in Juárez really knows who is killing whom. The Federation and the VCFO don't have their top people mixed up in that mess; they hire out lower level thugs to do the grunt work for them in that chaos. The cops are afraid of going in and asking too many questions, let alone thoroughly investigating any murders that occur in Juárez, so it's too simplistic to say that once the VCFO is out, everything will get better. Juárez still has a few hundred gangs to deal with.
That being said, if the Federation ends up being top dog in Juárez as a result of Acosta's arrest (whether that's in a few weeks or months), they have the power to rein in all the disparate factions in the city and establish some order. Whether or not they want to is a good question. With all the killing and chaos, less authority is scrutinizing the movement of drugs across the border into El Paso. However, all those gang members already in the drug business and possibly looking for work...this could result in the largest narco recruiting drive the drug war has ever seen.
At this early point in the game, post-Acosta arrest, it's too soon to tell what impact him being out of the game will have. Of course, it's always interesting to speculate, and imagine positive outcomes. As always, more to come...