Between 2001 and 2020, federal judges and magistrates have been assassinated in this century (Photo: Cuartoscuro / Special)

Mexico It is a country that, during the last decades, has sunk relentlessly into a spiral of violence and insecurity, detonated especially from the beginning of the call « War against drug trafficking » started in 2006 by the then president Felipe Calderon.

Given the increase in murders in the country, which has not been able to be stopped by Calderón’s successors, Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018) and Andrés Manuel López Obrador (2018-2024), the strategies have varied more or less over the years, but with the same result.

Almost without exception, every year a new record for homicides is broken in the country. 2019 was no exception: it is so far the most violent year on record in the country, with 34,582 malicious homicides registered in 12 months. And this year it seems to lead to an even higher figure.

The Judiciary has not been exempt from the violence that has flooded Mexico for some decades (Photo: Francisco Guasco / .)

In this panorama, violence has not exempted any sphere of Mexican society or institutions, not even the most important in the country. This includes the Judiciary, which has suffered the murder of five federal judges and magistrates between 2001 and 2020. In the statistics they are including two judges in the last four years, confirmed to Infobae Mexico the Council of the Federal Judiciary (CJF).

The last murder happened a few months ago. The federal judge Uriel villegas, as well as his wife Verónica Barajas, were murdered on June 16 in Colima, in a « State crime », as stated by Arturo Zaldívar, president of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN).

The judge had decided sensitive cases involving organized crime, including the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel, and renounced the protection offered by the Power of attorney to all its members who are considered high risk for their work.

Judge Uriel Villegas Ortiz was assassinated on Tuesday, June 16, 2020 outside his home with his wife Verónica Barajas (Photo: Facebook)

For now, there are two detainees for his murder: a man who is in arraigo, awaiting his possible connection to the process, and Jaime « T », who he did have an arrest warrant issued by a Judge of the Accusatory Criminal System of the Second Judicial Party of the state of Colima.

Before the murder of Villegas and Barajas, the last time a federal judge had been assassinated was in October 2016, when the federal judge Vicente Antonio Bermúdez Zacarías, 37 years old, was killed by a gunshot to the head as he ran through the streets near his home in the municipality of Metepec, in the State of Mexico.

As a district judge in matters of amparo and federal civil trials, Bermúdez had had to resolve issues related to drug trafficking, such as approving or not the transfer of criminal leaders from one jail to another.

Moment in which a subject shoots Federal Judge Vicente Antonio Bermúdez in the head (Video: Special)

Bermudez took charge of numerous cases related to important drug trafficking charges, among them the extradition to the United States of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, the founder of the Sinaloa cartel, who was handed over to that country months after the judge’s murder, in January 2017.

However, two years later, in October 2019, his widow, Marisol “N”, was detained and linked to the process for his possible participation in the murder of the judge.

Murders between 2001 and 2006

Three of the murders in this century occurred between 2001 and 2006 (Photo: Cuartoscuro)

To find the next murder of a federal judge in time, you have to go a whole decade, until 2006. The Fourth District Judge in Criminal Proceedings of the State of Mexico, René Hilario Nieto Contreras, was shot in the head in August of that year.

The judge worked in the federal maximum security prison of La Palma, in Almoloya de Juárez, and fEU responsible for the criminal proceedings against a series of drug lords including the Arella Félix and the Gulf Cartel.

Although the crime was never clarified, and there are no perpetrators who have been punished or prosecuted for this murderOne of the possible ones identified as the intellectual author was the leader of the Gulf Cartel, Osiel Cárdenas.

Cárdenas was one of the alleged intellectual authors pointed out for the murder of the judge (Photo: Special)

The two magistrates who complete the list of murders of this century are Jesus Alberto Ayala Montenegro and Benito Andrade Ibarra, what were murdered in Mérida, the capital of the state of Yucatan, next to the wife from the last batch, Maria del Carmen Arroyo.

Ayala Montenegro was then Magistrate of the Second Collegiate Court of the Twelfth Circuit and Andrade Ibarra was Magistrate of the Unitary Court of the Twelfth Circuit. The three people were shot by a group of people using high-caliber weapons.

The authorities They pointed out as the alleged intellectual author the drug trafficker César Valenzuela Mejía, to whom Ayala Montenegro denied an amparo against a sentence that was handed down for crimes against health. The man would have previously threatened said magistrate.

Judges’ safety

Zaldívar condemned the murder of Villegas and confirmed that all the judges who request the security protocol receive it (Photo: Cuartoscuro)

After the murder of Judge Uriel Villegas, federal judges and magistrates, as well as federal senators and private initiative, asked to review the protection protocols in the Judiciary. One of the recommendations that was repeated the most was that of the figure of the « faceless judges ».

It is a measure to protect judges in a context of violence, to allow them to work with impartiality and without fear, where their identity is not revealed in sensitive cases that involve drug trafficking, but also high-profile cases and other serious crimes.

And, despite the fact that Villegas had requested that the assigned protection not take care of him more, there are other cases in which the judges do request that they and their families be considered for the security protocol. He The Judiciary has indicated that any judge or magistrate who requests it has been granted the measure.

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