Apr 4, 2008

Juarez sex tourism suspect sentenced

Copyright (C) 2007, 2008 Peace without Borders, Peace Books

- U.S. court sentences Juarez sex tourism suspect
- El Paso cousins accused in deaths of American sisters in Juarez
- Mexican army cracks down on drug cartel, Juarez cops
- Women's advocate detained by federales

By Kelly McKenzie

EL PASO, TEXAS -- A U.S. federal judge sentenced a 51-year-old El Paso man who was convicted of crossing the border for the purpose of sex tourism in Juarez, Mexico.

John Dickens Armstrong pleaded guilty this week in a U.S. federal court to having sex with teenage girls in Juarez, and was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Armstrong, who was a registered sex offender, reportedly paid $40 in a Juarez downtown bar to have sex with female minors.

Mexican authorities, who did not try him and sent him back to El Paso last year, alleged that he also gave the girls drugs.

U.S. (ICE) authorities charged him under a U.S. federal laws that make it a violation for Americans to travel to other countries to have sex with minors, even if the act took place on foreign soil.

Registered sex offenders generally are free on parole or probation, and consequently are prohibited from crossing the border or state lines.

A previous Unicef-DIF report identified Juarez as one of the sex tourists destinations of Mexico.

Two El Paso men may be extradited to Mexico to face murder charges

By Kelly McKenzie

JUAREZ -- Two El Paso men who are cousins are accused by Mexican federal authorities of being involved in the 1996 shooting deaths of two American sisters in Juarez.

Ruben Lopez, 39, and his cousin Richard Lopez, 37, are in custody at the El Paso County Jail on warrants of the Procuraduria General Republica de Mexico (PGR), in connection with the murders of Victoria Parker Hopkins, 25, and Rita Parker (Barragan).

They face extradition hearings in San Antonio to decide whether they should be sent to Mexico on the Mexican charges, according to U.S. federal authorities.

Through his attorney, Ruben Lopez denied the allegations.

Jail records show Richard Lopez is in jail in El Paso on charges of drug possession.

It is the first case involving female victims that Mexican federal authorities have sought to prosecute in the 15-year saga of Juarez femicides.

Mexican federal authorities investigate murder cases only if they are linked to the drug cartels or other organized crime.

Members of the El Paso Police Department said previously that someone lured the Parker sisters from their El Paso home to Juarez in 1996. They were shot in the head in the northeastern edge of the border city.

The Parker sisters, originally from Wyoming, were linked socially by authorities and friends to Eddie Barragan, one of the three El Paso men who were disappeared in Juarez in 1999 near the Paso del Norte international bridge.

Mexican authorities alleged that Eddie Barragan was married to Rita Parker, but his relatives denied this and said he was already married to someone else in El Paso.

Eddie Barragan and two other El Paso men he vanished with from the Kentucky Club in Juarez were never seen again. Witnesses said they were whisked away by Juarez city police.

More than 500 girls and women have been killed in Juarez since 1993; dozens more are missing.

Police cartel under scrutiny

JUAREZ, MEXICO -- Six city law enforcement officers were detained by Mexican soldiers after the military found marijuana and unauthorized weapons on the offcers, authorities said.

Over the past week, the army detained more than 20 city and state police officers and officials during the crackdown on organized crime at the border.

Mexican army officials said not all the officers are charged with crimes; some are being subjected to evaluations to determine their suitability to continue serving as law enforcement officers.

Some police were caught with marijuana in their police vehicles. One police vehicle containing marijuana also yielded an AK-47 weapon.

Juarez city Police Chief Guillermo Prieto was taken to Mexico City for this kind of evaluation, authorities said.

More than 200 people have been killed in Juarez since Jan. 1, in what some sources suggested was part of a purge of organized crime, which involves corrupt police.

Police in Juarez have been implicated in arms trafficking auto thefts, burglaries, drug trafficking, human trafficking and homicides.

Juarez activist detained by masked men

JUAREZ, MEXICO -- Longtime Juarez activisit Cipriana Jurado was detained this week by federal officers wearing masks in connection with a protest at one of the international bridges last year.

Over the years, Jurado, a respected activist, has advocated for justice for laborers, the families of slain women and others.

Other activists are coming together to protest her detention.

Relatives said Jurado's children were left home alone after the officers took her away by force. She was returning from the city morgue after checking on one of the femicide cases.

She is being held at the request of CAPUFE, the Mexican federal agency that oversees federal highways and bridges; its headquarters is in Cuernavaca, Mexico.