Top Zetas cartel enforcers kidnapped the former drug trafficker in February 2013, blaming him for the loss of a drug load seized by U.S. law enforcement and demanding money for his release. Testifying in a San Antonio federal courtroom Wednesday, the man said sicarios, or cartel assassins, held him for 13 days, driving him in and around the Mexican city of Piedras Negras, a lucrative drug smuggling corridor that borders Eagle Pass.
Occasionally, the man testified, his captors would guide him out of the vehicle, force him to kneel on the ground and remove his blindfold so he could see what would happen to him and his family if he didn’t pay. Once when they removed the blindfold, there was a family standing in front of him – a mother, father and their 6-year-old daughter – and a metal barrel with fire nearby. He testified that while other sicarios grabbed the parents by their hair, forcing them to watch, Marciano Millan Vasquez, nicknamed “Chano,” used an ax to dismember the girl while she was alive. “Chano,” he said, laughed as he began to toss her remains into the fire before ordering the same be done to the parents. (Prosecutors and the judge on the case have asked that the witness not be named out of fear of cartel retaliation against his family.)
The former trafficker was the first to testify that he personally witnessed hideous acts of violence at the hands of Millan Vasquez, who prosecutors claim was a Zetas hitman before assuming control of the gang’s forces in Piedras Negras. Arrested in a home on San Antonio’s west side last year, Millan Vasquez is on trial for multiple charges that could put him in prison for life, including allegations that tie him to a wave of killings, abductions and disappearances that paralyzed the Mexican border state of Coahuila in recent years.
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