(CBS4/AP) – Authorities in Mexico say they have the answer to the disappearance of David Hartley in a U.S./Mexico border lake two years ago.
They announced the arrest on Monday of a suspect on murder charges.
The Mexican navy says a suspected cartel leader captured over the weekend is accused of involvement of David Hartley’s death and some of Mexico’s most notorious crimes in recent years.
Navy spokesman Jose Luis Vergara says Salvador Alfonso Martinez Escobedo was arrested Saturday and is believed to have masterminded the massacre of 72 migrants in the northern state of Tamaulipas in 2010.
The man known as “squirrel” also has been linked to the escape of 151 prisoners in 2010 from a jail in the city of Nuevo Laredo and the recent flight of 131 prisoners in the city of Piedras Negra.
“Salvador Alfonso Martinez Escobedo is allegedly responsible for mass graves found in Tamaulipas state with more than 200 bodies and the execution of more than 50 people around Mexico by his own hand as well as the murder of U.S. citizen David Hartley killed on Falcon Lake on September 30, 2010,” Vergara said.
According to Tiffany Hartley — David’s widow who lives in northern Colorado — the couple was jet skiing in 2010 when armed men on boats opened fire on them, killing David.
Asked about the detention, Tiffany Hartley’s mother, Cynthia Young of LaSalle, said: “We heard the news this morning. We’re just trying to process the information.”
“What we’re going to try to do is get a hold of some facts and make sure we know what’s happening,” Young said. She said the family could issue a statement once more information is known.
Tiffany Hartley said she found out the news of the arrest via a text message from a Texas media contact.
“Today obviously came as a shock. I wasn’t really expecting anything to happen this morning because I haven’t heard anything since probably the first of the year when the remains were found down in Falcon Lake,” Tiffany Hartley said. “All we know is that the Mexico authorities have captured somebody and they have them detained who possibly had something to do with David’s murder.”
Tiffany Hartley said she doesn’t believe Martinez pulled the trigger but may have given the go-ahead to the people who did. “But that’s what we’re really looking for is, what is his link to David and does he know where David’s body is. Does he know where the remains are? Same questions we had two years ago. Where is David, and who had the involvement in all this,” she said.
The incident happened on Falcon Lake, which is cut in half by the border between Texas and Mexico.
At the time — Sept. 30, 2010 — the couple lived in Texas but they had been planning to move back to live near friends and family in their native Colorado soon. Hartley moved back to Colorado after the incident.
Tiffany Hartley spent much of last year campaigning for the American government to do more to pressure the Mexican government into a bigger-scale investigation into what happened to David.
Vergara did not offer evidence on Martinez’s specific involvement in any of the alleged crimes.
He was “a trusted man and direct assistant” to Miguel Angel Trevino, one of the two feared alleged top leaders of the Zetas, Vergara said.
Mexican authorities had posed a $1 million reward for Martinez. They say he headed the battle that erupted in 2010 between the Zetas and its previous ally, the Gulf Cartel. The Gulf gang has suffered major blows this year with the capture of its two main bosses.
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