A North Carolina charter school teacher was no match for members of a notorious drug cartel when he tried to steal thousands of dollars and pounds of cocaine from one of their stash houses, according to a sheriff investigating the case.
"It was almost like an old Western shootout," Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson said at a news conference about the gunfire the 40-year-old teacher, Barney Harris, and his brother-in-law had exchanged with members of the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación, or the New Generation Jalisco Cartel, reports the New York Post.
The cartel, one of the world's largest drug trafficking organizations, has a reputation for violence and revenge, and even cannibalism, and has murdered people ranging from judges to police, and sometimes, its own members while pushing to control the drug trade in the United States.
Harris, a Spanish teacher and basketball coach at Union Academy in Monroe, North Carolina, wore a bulletproof vest when he attempted to steal cash and pounds of cocaine from one of CJNG's trailers, but that didn't protect him from the ammunition the cartel's leaders used on him, Johnson said.
The cartel is notorious for its acts of vengeance, notes the Post. In March, the body of one of the group's former lieutenants, who had broken away to start his own gang, was found sitting on a park bench near Guadalajara. It was wrapped in plastic and a sign, calling him "the traitor El Cholo," was pinned to his body with knives.
Cartel members also in December chopped the hands off of three thieves and stranded them bound and blindfolded, while holding up the stumps of their arms on the side of a road.
The gang's members also have killed 15 Mexican police officers in one ambush alone, have left tortured bodies of 35 rival cartel members on the side of a road, and once even doped two teenagers with crack cocaine and made them eat the hearts of murder victims during an initiation ritual, according to News Corp Australia.
The outlet also reports that in 2015, cartel members used a rocket-propelled grenade to take down a Mexican military Black Hawk helicopter and killed nine people.
The cartel has also used acid baths, beheadings, and public hangings and circulated images of its actions on social media to strike fear into enemies and the public.
"We deemed CJNG one of the highest-priority transnational organized crime threats we face," the Drug Enforcement Agency wrote in a press release last year when it announced the arrests of more than 600 cartel members.
The DEA says the CJNG is one of the fastest-growing criminal organizations in Mexico and one of the "most prolific methamphetamine producers in the world.”
Its leader, Nemesio Oseguera-Cervantes, or "El Mencho," is on the DEA’s most wanted fugitive list, and the agency is offering a $10 million reward for information leading to his arrest.
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