Son of Murdered Mexican Activist Marisela Escobedo Says Police Have the Wrong Man

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PHOTO BY MAY-EK QUERALES
Juan Frairie Escobedo at the El Paso press conference Tuesday.

On Sunday in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua Gov. Cesar Duarte triumphantly announced before the TV cameras that police had finally caught the man who killed well-known activist Marisela Escobedo on the Chihuahua State Capitol steps in December 2010.

At the time of her death, Marisela was holding a vigil to bring her 16-year-old daughter’s killer to justice, one of the dozens of marches and events that made her famous in Mexico for her courage and persistence in seeking justice in the murder of her daughter Rubi Fraire Escobedo.

At a press conference held by the state police Sunday, Jose Enrique Jimenez Zavala, known as “El Wicked,” was presented as the man who shot Marisela Escobedo. According to police, Jimenez is an alleged gunman for the Los Aztecas gang, which are enforcers for the Juarez cartel. In a televised confession, the 29-year-old Jimenez said he carried out Escobedo’s murder on orders from the Zetas and La Linea (gunmen for the Juarez cartel). Jimenez said they wanted her killed because she was drawing too much attention through her protests.

The only problem is that Jimenez isn’t the killer, says Escobedo’s son, Juan Fraire Escobedo. In a press conference Tuesday at the El Paso law office of Carlos Spector, Juan said that his uncle—who was an eyewitness to the murder of Marisela—ID’d the killer but Mexican authorities have done nothing to capture him. Escobedo, who is seeking political asylum in the United States, says the man who killed his mother is an U.S. citizen but works for organized crime in Mexico.

“I’m very sad and angry that they still haven’t resolved my mother’s case,” he said in a telephone interview after the press conference. “We met with the Mexican authorities at the Mexican consulate in El Paso last year and ID’d the criminal. They promised there would be an investigation. But after that they never responded to me again. Jimenez is not the man who killed my mother.”

Mexican authorities have also failed to solve the murder of his sister Rubi, he says, which occurred in 2008.  Sergio Barraza, Rubi’s former boyfriend, confessed to the killing and even led authorities to where he had burnt her body, but the judges declared him innocent for lack of evidence. Marisela began a campiagn for judicial reform and was working to have Barraza arrested when she was killed. According to Juan Fraire Escobedo, Barraza is now a member of the Zetas Cartel.

Fraire Escobedo says the only thing he agrees with from the government’s claims this week is that the orders to kill his mother were given by the Zetas and La Linea. “Jimenez is nothing more than a scapegoat for the authorities,” he says.

To learn more about Juan Fraire Escobedo’s fight for justice for his family hear him speak at a Texas Observer forum last March with the nonprofit group Mexicans in Exile, who are advocating for justice and human rights in Mexico.

Melissa del Bosque joined The Texas Observer staff in 2008. She specializes in reporting on immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border. Her work has been published in national and international publications including TIME magazine and the Mexico City-based Nexos magazine. Melissa is a 2014-15 Lannan Fellow at The Investigative Fund.