37-year-old Vicente Bermudez Zacarias, a federal judge who presided over Sinaloa Cartel drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s case, was shot and killed while jogging outside his home on Monday.
El Chapo’s Sinaloa Cartel has been involved in the production, smuggling and distribution of methamphetamine, marijuana, ecstasy and heroin from Colombia through Mexico to the United States. By the time of his 2014 arrest, El Chapo had exported more than 500 tons (450,000 kg) of cocaine in the U.S. alone.
In 1993, El Chapo was extradited and sentenced to 20 years in prison in Mexico for murder and drug trafficking, however he was able to escape from a federal maximum-security prison in 2001 after bribing prison guards. The U.S. offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture. After years on the run, he was found in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, and was sent back to prison.
El Chapo escaped again in July 2015, he managed to escape through a 1.5 km (0.93 mi) tunnel that led to a construction site and was once again on the run until his recapture by Mexican marines following a shootout in January 2016.
Zacarias had been a federal court judge since 2013 and in March this year, the judge suspended the extradition of drug kingpin El Chapo. According to the New York Daily News, alongside El Chapo’s case, Zacarias also presided over challenges from lawyers for Miguel Trevino. More commonly referred to by his alias Z-40, Trevino is a former Mexican drug lord and leader of the criminal organization known as Los Zetas.
Luis María Aguilar Morales, president of the Mexico Supreme Court, said in a statement, “We have already been in contact with the competent authorities to immediately investigate this case and have it resolved.”
He continued, “Federal judges are people who devote their lives, their personal integrity, moral and physical, to administering federal justice and are required to have the security and tranquility that their independence guarantees.”
Although authorities have not yet confirmed a motive for his death, local media released the footage of the brutal assassination, which can be seen below.
In broad daylight, Zacarias can be seen wearing jogging clothes, as cars pass by, the assasin runs behind him, and shoots him directly in the head, before turning and running away. Zacarias died on the way to hospital. WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT.