3 With Ties To U.S. Consulate Killed In Juarez

Two American citizens and a Mexican citizen, all associated with the U.S. consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, were killed in a drive-by shooting over the weekend. The State Department issued a warning to U.S. citizens traveling and living in Mexico, and also authorized government personnel from U.S. consulates in six border cities to send their families out of the area because of drug-related violence.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And Im Renee Montagne.

Mexico's drug war has reached the American consulate in a border city at the center of those drug battles. Over the weekend, three people connected to the consulate were gunned down in Juarez. This city, across the border from El Paso, Texas, has been overwhelmed by drug-related violence in the past two years. As Monica Ortiz Uribe reports, two of the victims of the attacks were U.S. citizens.

MONICA ORTIZ URIBE: One of the attacks happened in broad daylight on Saturday afternoon, along this main street that runs east to west in Ciudad Juarez, just a few hundred feet from the American border.

According to witnesses, an American couple driving a white Toyota RAV4 were chased and fired at by gunmen in another vehicle. Jaime Torres, a spokesman for the city of Juarez, said he was in his City Hall office when he heard a loud crash and the screeching of tires.

Mr. JAIME TORRES (Spokesman, City of Juarez, Mexico): (Spanish spoken)

ORTIZ URIBE: We went out onto the street and saw six cars had crashed into each other just behind City Hall, Torres said. The driver of the Toyota, an American woman who worked for the U.S. consulate in Juarez, Torres added, apparently lost control of the vehicle and crashed into another car, causing several accidents behind her.

Mr. TORRES: (Spanish spoken)

ORTIZ URIBE: As Torrez approached the scene, he said he saw the woman slumped dead in the driver's seat. Her husband lay dying beside her. In the car seat behind them was their wailing infant daughter.

Mr. TORRES: (Spanish spoken)

ORTIZ URIBE: Torres said the baby was not hurt and put in the care of U.S. consulate officials later that day. News reports identified the U.S. citizens as 35-year-old Leslie A. Enriquez and 34-year-old Arthur Redelfs. They also reported that Enriquez was pregnant. A second attack occurred almost simultaneously a few miles away, in a residential area. There, 37-year-old Jorge Alberto Salcido Ceniceros was killed. With him were two children, ages 4 and 7, who were injured and taken to the hospital.

Salcido Ceniceros was the husband of another U.S. consulate worker, who was a Mexican citizen. All the victims are believed to have been coming from the same social event in Juarez.

Unidentified Man #1: (Spanish spoken)

Unidentified Man #2: (Spanish spoken)

ORTIZ URIBE: Esto Dyer(ph), a photographer for the Juarez newspaper El Norte, heard the crime report on his police scanner. He describes the scene after he arrived.

Mr. ESTO DYER (Photographer, El Norte newspaper): (Spanish spoken)

ORTIZ URIBE: Police were everywhere, he said. There was a white car that had crashed against a black Nissan, and there was a woman sitting on the floor, crying. Shortly after arriving, Dyer heard the report of the American couple shot near City Hall.

Mr. DYER: (Spanish spoken)

ORTIZ URIBE: We dont know the motive behind these attacks, Dyer said. You would assume the victims are people who have nothing to do with drug trafficking, so it makes us all more fearful. The police and military in Juarez believe the killers are linked to a local drug-trafficking cartel.

A spokesman with the Obama administration released a statement early Sunday morning, saying the president was deeply saddened and outraged by the news of the deaths. The spokesman said the American government will work together with Mexican authorities to bring the killers to justice.

For NPR News, I'm Monica Ortiz Uribe in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

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