Murder-for-Hire Plot Tied to Cartel: Feds

By Monica Dean
|  Friday, Feb 18, 2011  |  Updated 11:30 AM PDT
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2 Smuggling Attempts, 450 Pounds of Pot

Getty Images/David McNew

The U.S. military is in a better position to provide Mexico's military with training, resources and intelligence as its southern neighbor battles deadly drug cartels, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.

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Three men suspected of plotting to kill five family members who owe money to a Tijuana drug trafficking ring are under arrest in the San Diego County jail.

The three men were arrested on suspicion of murder-for-hire and brought to San Diego to face charges.

California Department of Justice agents say they got a tip about the plot and that prompted a raid at a house in Palmdale Thursday.

At that home agents seized two assault weapons, more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition and an estimated $20,000 in cash.

Jorge Ernesto Sillas-Rocha, 27, and Victor Manuel Magana Gonzalez, 24 were arrested at the home, according to a Department of Justice news release.

Agents said they later arrested Daniel Ceballos, 34, at a Starbuck's coffee shop in Palmdale.

The three suspects were brought to San Diego but officials say Mexico's notorious Arellano Felix drug cartel is behind the plot.

The cartel is known for being a vicious gang of drug traffickers responsible for violent murders in Mexico.

The intended targets of this murder for hire plot reportedly live here in California and have ties to the cartel. They were said to have owed the cartel a large sum of money, believed to be the proceeds from drug sales.

Officials say the next step is for San Diego's district attorney to issue a warrant for the arrest of Juan Francisco Sillas-Rocha, 33, known as "Ruedas," believe to be mastermind behind the plot. Sillas-Rocha is a lieutenant for the Arrellano-Felix cartel, according to federal agents

Department of justice officials say he was willing to pay the would-be assassins thousands of dollars for committing the murders which were to take place in a simulated home-invasion robbery.
 

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