“Char” for Borderland Beat 

This article was reposted from MY SANANTONIO.COM 

,By Jason Buchjbuch@express-news.net
Updated July 22, 2011 1:20 a.m.

Wenceslao Tovar Jr.
Mexican authorities Thursday handed over to U.S. marshals in Laredo an American accused of being a Zeta hitman who took part in a brazen 2005 killing in that city.

Wenceslao Tovar Jr., a 26-year-old from Laredo, is charged with murder and aggravated kidnapping in the June 8, 2005 killing of Bruno Alberto Juarez Orozco, a warehouse security guard. He also faces federal racketeering charges.

A group of hit men using a fake police light pulled over Juarez Orozco at about 2 p.m. in front of an industrial park on Laredo’s northwest side, according to court documents. One of the killers tried to handcuff him, and when he struggled, another shot him with an AR-15 rifle, according to the documents.

At about 1:45 p.m. Thursday, Tovar, who uses a wheelchair, was rolled across the pedestrian international bridge in downtown Laredo and turned over to waiting U.S. authorities. Because he’s a U.S. citizen, Mexican authorities simply deported him, circumventing lengthy extradition proceedings.

Tovar, also known as Wency and El Tucan, is accused of working for Gabriel Cardona Ramirez, a much-publicized American sicario, or hit man, who supervised a crew of mostly U.S.-born Zeta killers during 2005 and 2006.

At the time, the Zetas were enforcers for the Gulf Cartel, which was fighting to keep the Sinaloa Cartel out of Laredo and its sister city Nuevo Laredo.

From 2003 to 2006, Laredo’s homicide rate, usually averaging about 10 per year, jumped to about 20 killings a year.

“This was at the height of the Zeta violence here in northern Mexico and here in South Texas, when they were carrying out these executions,” said Isidro “Chilo” Alaniz, the district attorney for Webb and Zapata counties.

The allegations against Tovar are that he was “a gunman in a hit that took place here in 2005, near Killam Industrial Park, where he was part of a sicario cell with the likes of Gabriel Cardona,” Alaniz said. “The evidence we have is that Wenceslao Tovar was the actual gunman who shot Orozco in broad daylight.”

During the February 2010 trial of one of Tovar’s co-defendants in the federal racketeering case, admitted Zeta sicario Raul Jasso testified he spoke to a fellow hit man named “Winceslado” after Juarez Orozco’s killing.

“When Bruno refuses to let himself get kidnapped, Winceslado got down with an R-15 and began to shoot at him,” Jasso said, according to a transcript of his testimony.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Juarez Orozco was shot eight times in the chest. Cardona later told police he was paid $5,000 for the killing and shared it with a member of his crew.

They were chasing Juarez Orozco because he’d worked for the Zetas, but had been using a radio to intercept the Zetas’ communications and alert rivals to their movements. The hit men were supposed to kidnap their target and bring him to Zeta leaders in Mexico.

Tovar’s been on the move throughout northern Mexico since he fled the U.S. in 2005, Alaniz said. He’s paralyzed from the waist down because of injuries he suffered in a car wreck, he said Tovar will face the federal charges first. A joint investigation by Laredo police and the Drug Enforcement Administration during 2005 and 2006 broke up Cardona’s and other crews operating in the U.S.

Cardona has pleaded guilty to five counts of murder in the U.S. and admitted to killing two U.S. citizens in Mexico. A state district judge sentenced him to 80 years in prison and he’s serving a life sentence in federal prison.

Half a dozen Zetas have been convicted in state district court as a result of the investigation and 13 have pleaded guilty in federal court.