Mexico launches investigation of kidnapper who directed crimes from jail cell
MEXICO CITY – The Mexico City government announced Saturday it has launched an investigation into whether prison authorities turned a blind eye to a notorious kidnapper who was directing kidnappings from his jail cell.Antonio Ruiz Ortega, director of the city’s prisons, told local media that all employees at the Santa Martha Acatitla prison, on the city’s eastern outskirts, would be investigated.Prosecutors say inmate Jose Luis Canchola had directed the kidnapping of prominent Argentine coach Ruben Omar Romano from within the prison, where he is serving decades-long terms for other kidnappings.Ruiz Ortega acknowledged that there are 600 fixed telephone lines installed in Mexico City prisons – 60 in the Santa Martha prison – and that prisoners have the right to make phone calls during the day time.Mexico has been struggling with varied success to confiscate or block prohibited cell phones from its jail.One of the main threats from jailhouse phones is the relatively recent practice of inmates using their contacts on the outside and knowledge of kidnapping tactics to extort money from potential victims via telephone calls, in which they threaten to kidnap a relative unless paid.That appeared to have been a sideline for Canchola, one of Mexico’s more notorious convicted kidnappers, who twice escaped from prison, only to be recaptured.Cabeza de Vaca said the man has used his time behind bars to recruit other inmates.Canchola, who has been in and out of prison since 1982, was transferred on Thursday from the medium-security Mexico City prison where he has been held, to the maximum-security La Palma prison just west of the city, as a security measure.Also Saturday, federal prosecutors announced they were taking over the investigation of the Sept. 16 killing of the director of public safety for the central state of Michoacan, Rogelio Zarazua, and a bodyguard.A group of men with automatic weapons stormed into a restaurant in the colonial city of Morelia, the Michoacan capital 135 miles west of Mexico City, and opened fire.Federal police can take over a case only when there is evidence that federal offenses – like drug trafficking and organized crime or heavy weapons possession – are involved.Investigators initially said hit men working for drug smuggling gangs known to operate across Michoacan were likely involved.
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