A Sinaloa Cartel-aligned gang leader’s murder sparked fears of escalated violence in Juarez after the city closed 2018 with a record 1,247 homicides.
The murder of Edgar Roberto Oliver Romo, aka “El Garfield,” 34, the leader of “Los Artistas Asesinos” occurred on Wednesday night at approximately 9:40 pm at the Motel Atlantic in colonia Las Torres I y II, according to local reports. Police were summoned after reports of gunfire. Authorities were directed to the room 5 garage, where they located a dead Romo with multiple gunshot wounds. Police later learned that several people fled the room in a Lincoln Navigator after gunshots rang out. Investigators located 13 .40 caliber shell casings at the scene and one live round near the deceased.
Edgar Roberto Oliver Romo was wanted by police in Juarez and considered a top priority. He was sought for gang-related crimes, including multiple murders, according to a statement released by authorities.
In August 2018, Breitbart News reported on the escalating violence due to a fracture between Los Artistas Asesinos or “Doble AA” and “Los Mexicles,” former allies who operate in the El Paso-Juárez Metropolitan Border Area and were loyal to the Sinaloa Cartel. Several videos surfaced featuring individuals who identify as members of Doble AA. They issued vulgar threats to Los Mexicles. In another video, numerous rifles and handguns were displayed on a tarp while a narrator issued warnings to the Mexicles—now aligned with rivals of the Sinaloa Cartel.
Less than three days into 2019, 18 murder cases were opened throughout the border state of Chihuahua with 11 in Juarez alone, according to local reports.
Cartel violence in Juárez is also attributed to the resurgence of the Juárez Cartel or “El Nuevo Cartel de Juárez” and the recent split of a key leader from “Los Aztecas” to “La Línea.” Los Aztecas, also known as “Barrio Aztecas,” operate in the El Paso- Juárez Metropolitan Border Area by performing hits for the Juárez Cartel in addition to extortion, kidnapping, and street-level drug sales. Los Aztecas are also in the midst of an internal conflict between the “Old School Aztecs” and a second faction loyal to the recently captured leader of La Línea. The split set off a deadly turf war between “new” and “old” school factions.
Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce has worked in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year assignment in Monterrey, Mexico, working out of the Consulate for the United States Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program, where he was the Regional Program Manager for Northeast Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas.) You can follow him on Twitter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org