Trial tied to '10 Chandler beheading, cartels likely delayed until Oct. - East Valley Tribune: Public Safety

Trial tied to '10 Chandler beheading, cartels likely delayed until Oct.

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Posted: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 1:11 pm | Updated: 4:15 pm, Tue Jul 17, 2012.

The trial of a man police say participated in the beheading of a Chandler man nearly two years ago — a crime believed to be the first of its kind in the U.S. connected to a Mexican drug cartel — has been rescheduled.

Cristantos Moroyoqui, 36, faces a second-degree murder charge in the death of Martin Alejandro Cota-Monroy, 38. Moroyoqui’s trial was scheduled to begin on July 10, but will likely be pushed to October, according to Maricopa County Superior Court records.

In October 2010, Chandler police responded to a small apartment in the 300 block of West Fairview Street and discovered the decapitated body of Cota-Monroy inside an apartment.

While four men were believed by police to be participating in the beheading inside Cota-Monroy’s apartment, just one — Moroyoqui — was arrested, on suspicion of second-degree murder and hindering prosecution. Police say Moroyoqui’s shoes and clothes were covered in blood at the time of his arrest.

Authorities say that Cota-Monroy, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, stole 400 pounds of marijuana from the cartel PEI—Estatales/El Chappo and then lied about it in an attempt to save his life. But three “sicarios” (hitmen from Mexico with ties to Perris, Calif.) caught up with him and sent a message by killing him for the drugs he told the cartel were confiscated by the Border Patrol, according to a 170-page Chandler police report.

Authorities have yet to locate Juan Campos Aguilar, Jose David Castro Reyes and a man known to them only by the reference “El Joto” — a derogatory Spanish term for a gay man — in connection with the beheading. Police believe the suspected hit men had been staying the Value Place motel in west Phoenix and fled in a 2003 red Ford Expedition with California license plate No. 6FWR784.

They are believed to have returned to Mexico and possibly could have been killed themselves by members of a rival cartel looking to even the score for Cota-Monroy’s death, authorities have said.

Since the time of his arrest, Moroyoqui, also an illegal immigrant from Mexico, has been held in a Maricopa County jail without bond.

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