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Law enforcement official say Alabama residents have ‘no reason’ to fear drug cartels following beheading of teen

July 26, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Law enforcement official say Alabama residents have ‘no reason’ to fear drug cartels following beheading of teen

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A law enforcement official says Alabama residents should not be concerned about drug cartels, following the horrific death of a 13-year-old autistic teen, who was beheaded for witnessing her grandmother’s stabbing death by purported drug traffickers.

Bret Hamilton, an assistant special agent with the DEA, said the Sinaloa cartel, who are allegedly behind the young girl’s slaying “has been around forever.”

Mariah Lopez was murdered after her grandmother, Oralia Mendoza, was fatally stabbed in a cemetery outside of Hunstville. Oralia had reported ties to the Sinaloa cartel.

However, although Hamilton said the Sinaloa Cartel, once led by El Chapo, has a “huge” influence in the United States, their use of violence is far less common than it is in Mexico.

13-year-old Mariah Lopez (right) and her grandmother Oralia Mendoza (left) were killed. (Photo courtesy of Madison County sheriff’s office)

“They try to maintain a low profile,” Hamilton said in an interview with the Birmingham News. “They’re not going to conduct any violence unless they’ve been double-crossed. If they’ve been double-crossed by their distributors or someone who has purchased dope, they’re going to take care of business and make a statement when they do it.”

Two days before her death, 49-year-old Mendoza, traveled to Norcross, Georgia to purchase meth, according to the Daily Mail.

She was accompanied by another woman, along with Yoni Aguilar and Israel Palomino. Both men have been charged with both victims’ murder.

Mendoza previously dated Palomino, 34, and was living with 26-year-old Aguilar at the time of her slaying.

The two men grew suspicious of a double-cross when Palomino found out that Mendoza had taken out a SIM card from her phone and sent messages to a mystery number during the drug run.

In early June, Palomino and Aguilar woke up Mendoza and Mariah – who had Autism- in the middle of the night and said their safety was in jeopardy.

Yoni Aguilar left; Israel Palomino; right. (Madison County Sheriff’s Office)

They pledged to take the two to a safe place and took them to Moon Cemetery, where they stabbed the grandmother to death.

Aguilar told authorities that Palomino then forced him to behead the teen girl in a secluded area because she witnessed the initial killing.

Investigators say they recovered two knives tied to the killings: one under Palomino’s mattress, and the other under Aguilar’s. They are both charged with capital murder.

News of the horrific killings disturbed many in Alabama, but Hamilton was not shocked.

“This is one of those times I’m surprised everybody is so surprised,’ he added. “But I do this every day.”

Hamilton noted that the Sinaloa cartel is “the most pervasive and extensive-reaching cartel” in the United States.

Hamilton also said that the cartel plants themselves in Mexican immigrant communities in the U.S., especially in rural areas, “basically hiding in plain sight.”

Bret Hamilton (above), an assistant special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, said the Sinaloa cartel responsible for the girl’s death ‘has been around forever’

Hamilton said states that as the reason grisly cartel violence is so uncommon in the United States.

“They know they can’t to pay off law enforcement here like they can south of the border,” he stated.

So while Hamilton doesn’t think that Alabamans should be worried about the cartels, he does believe that they can be “concerned or pissed off.”

“These are foreign nationals committing crimes that are affecting our kids with poison,” he continued.

“It’s not going to change. Unless we do something drastically different… it’s going to stay the same.”

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