The federal judge who presided over appeals from various accused drug lords — including Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman — was killed with a bullet to the head outside his Mexico home Monday, authorities said.
Judge Vicente Bermudez Zacarias, 37, was shot at close range as he exited his home in Metepec, which is located about 43 miles outside of Mexico City, officials confirmed.
He was rushed to a nearby hospital in an ambulance but could not be saved, local media reported.
Bermudez had handled several legal challenges from lawyers for “El Chapo,” the jailed leader of the Sinaloa Cartel.
He has also handled legal challenges from lawyers working for Miguel Trevino, who had ties to the Zetas cartel.
Trevino is currently a prisoner in the maximum security Altiplano prison not far from where the judge lived.
Bermudez began serving as a judge overseeing legal challenges and federal trials in Metepec in March.
“El Chapo” is currently in a federal prison on the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez, which borders El Paso, Texas.
Authorities suddenly transferred him there in recent weeks from the Altiplano lockup near Mexico City where he was being held before, citing work being done to improve security at the facility.
“El Chapo” has escaped twice from Mexican prisons through elaborately constructed tunnels.
In 2001 he broke out of a Mexican prison and spent more than a decade on the run, becoming one of the world’s most wanted outlaws before he was recaptured in 2014.
Last year he escaped again through a mile-long tunnel dug to the shower of his cell at Altiplano.
Mexican federal agents caught him in January in the city of Los Mochis, Sinaloa, the state from which his drug gang took its name.
The convicted Sinaloa cartel boss is wanted in seven U.S. jurisdictions on charges that include murder, conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine and marijuana, money-laundering and arms possession.
“El Chapo” lawyers have filed numerous legal challenges aimed at preventing his extradition, but government officials have said it is likely he will be sent to the United States by early 2017.
Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto said in a televised speech Monday that he ordered his attorney general to investigate the murder, but he did not provide additional information about the case.
With News Wire Services