Crime & Justice

Mexico continues search for suspect in murder of priests

Cerocahui, Mexico, Jun 23 (EFE).- The search for the suspect in the murder here earlier this week of two Catholic priests and a tour guide continued Thursday, authorities in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua said.

Besides trying to capture Jose Noriel Portillo, alias “El Chueco,” the operation is focused on ensuring the security of residents in Cerocahui and surrounding communities, Chihuahua Attorney General Roberto Javier Fierro Duarte told a press conference.

Investigators have learned that Portillo, reputed to be the top enforcer for a criminal outfit active in the area, came to Cerocahui on Monday looking for Paul Berrelleza, member of a baseball team who last weekend defeated a team sponsored by El Chueco.

A witness told police that Portillo shot Berrelleza and set fire to his home.

Hours later, according to the account provided by Fierro Duarte, Portillo had some kind of action at a hotel with tourist guide Pedro Palma, who ran to the Church of Francisco Xavier, apparently seeking refuge.

When Portillo reached the church, he shot Palma and the two Jesuits, Javier Campos and Joaquin Mora, and then removed their bodies from the scene.

The remains of the three victims were found Wednesday.

The state AG Office has posted a reward of 5 million pesos ($250,000) for information leading to Portillo’s arrest.

A requiem Mass for the slain priests is scheduled for Saturday in Chihuahua city, the state capital, but they are to be laid to rest in the parish church in Cerocahui. EFE lt-ia/dr

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