The investigation into the murder on Falcon Lake has taken a grisly new turn:
The lead Mexican investigator in the Falcon Lake case, Rolando Armando Flores Villegas, has been killed, his severed head delivered Tuesday in a suitcase to the Mexican military, officials told CNN.
“His head was delivered to the army garrison this morning in a suitcase after he failed to report back home last night,” Zapata County, Texas, Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez Jr. said.
Mexican officials also confirmed the brutal killing.
For those who have been skeptical of Tiffany Hartley’s telling of her husband’s murder, fair enough, we all have been rendered cynics by the Susan Smiths and Scott Petersons of the world, but it’s time to stand down on this case. So far there is substantial evidence supporting Hartley, including an eyewitness who saw her being chased on the lake, blood recovered from her life vest, and police footage of the Hartleys being stopped on the road within hours of David Hartley’s murder. That footage shows the Hartleys together, jet skis in tow, on their way to the lake. Police stopped them because of a license plate mismatch, and then let them go. Up against this, there is no evidence that Tiffany Hartley isn’t telling the truth, just understandable doubt.
And now we have the murder and beheading of the lead Mexican investigator on the case. It’s abundantly clear from the circumstances of his death that the Zetas don’t want David Hartley’s killing investigated. They killed the investigator to ramp up their intimidation of law enforcement officers to keep them off the trail, both of this crime and of the Zetas activities in general
In addition to Villegas’ execution, authorities in Arizona report a beheading on the U.S. side of the border:
Chandler police are investigating the bizarre case of a man who was stabbed, decapitated and left in a pool of blood in a central city apartment.
One man has been arrested and police are seeking three more suspects in what may be the city’s first beheading.
The man police arrested in the case, Crisantos Moroyoqui, 36, is an undocumented immigrant who lived across the way from the murder scene. He rented a bed for $100 a month in a small apartment shared by five other day laborers. He had lived there three months, his roommates said Monday.
This may well be a gang-on-gang execution. It resembles many such executions that have happened in Mexico over the past couple of years. But it occurred on the U.S. side of the border.
So in the past couple of weeks, we have what appears to be a Mexican gang execution in the U.S., we have an apparently innocent U.S. citizen murdered by a Mexican gang on the border, and we have the lead investigator in that latter case beheaded to send a message to Mexican authorities who might crack down on the gangs.
I’ll reiterate a couple of things I’ve said previously about this case. One, it’s very unlikely that either David Hartley’s body or his jet ski will ever be found. The Zetas had the opportunity and motive to take both once they had chased Tiffany Hartley away. In this case, the absence of evidence does not indicate evidence of the absence of a crime. What evidence there is suggests that Tiffany Hartley is telling the truth. The Zetas also probably have bought off or terrified the Mexican investigators on the case. They couldn’t buy off Villegas or didn’t bother to try. They just murdered him to send a message.
Two, the violence on the border and down into Mexico is clearly getting out of hand. The Zetas and the Gulf Cartel are battling for control of the drug trade, and Mexicans and now Americans are getting caught in the crossfire. The Hartley killing was probably a case of mistaken identity — the Zetas may have mistaken them for someone they expected to do a deal with, and opened fire once the deal they were expecting started to go sour. But whatever happened, having killed an American, they have doubled down by killing the lead investigator. The Zetas are composed of former Mexican special forces and are extremely violent and dangerous. They won’t stop until they are stopped, and thus far the Mexican government has not demonstrated the ability to stop them. It’s probably going to take U.S. assistance.
But three, as long as the current administration is in power, the U.S. is not going to lend any meaningful assistance to Mexico to stop them. The borders are a national security issue, but the fact is that the Obama administration is playing the border as a wedge issue to woo Hispanic voters, and doesn’t care a whit about anything else on this issue. It won’t offer anything beyond words and token help, while it sues Arizona as a way to intimidate other border states into not amping up enforcement on their own. That’s the message of the Arizona lawsuit, a message sent and delivered through the state Democratic Party right here in Texas.