Mexican Drug Cartel Gang Said to be Operating in Idaho

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Many of the nation's top lawmen have been in Idaho this week. More than 150 federal and state prosecutors are wrapping up a convention of the National District Attorneys Association in Sun Valley. And while the DAs heard from a number of speakers this week, a bit of a bombshell was dropped in an address from El Paso District Attorney Jaime Esparaza.

In today's Idaho Mountain Express, officials are quoted as saying that one of the most dangerous gangs in the Western world has made its way to Idaho. The so-called Barrio Azteca, which works with Mexican drug cartels primarily at the U.S.-Mexico border, is now present in Idaho, according to Esparaza.

Since 2006, drug-related violence has claimed about 40,000 lives in Mexico, and the danger continues to creep closer to the border. Esparaza called Cuidad Juarez, directly across the border from El Paso, "one of the most dangerous cities in the world." Last year, there were more than 3,000 narcotics-related murders in Ciudad Juarez, compared with 11 homicides in El Paso. Esparaza said Barrio Azteca, a ruthless gang formed in the El Paso prison system, serves as a "parliamentary force" for one of the largest drug cartels in Mexico.

The president of the National Narcotics Officers' Associations' Coalition said Barrio Azteca was active in several states, including Idaho.