EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – A Chihuahua state official on Thursday expressed his frustration at the release of a reputed Sinaloa cartel leader convicted in connection to the murder of eight men.

The State Superior Justice Tribunal last Friday tossed out video evidence that led to the conviction of Enrique Lopez Acosta, aka “El Cumbias,” in connection with the cartel’s armed incursion into the mountain town of San Juanito in 2010. At the time, the Sinaloa cartel had displaced the Juarez cartel from major cities in Chihuahua and was trying to consolidate control of the countryside.  

A video secured by the Chihuahua Attorney General’s Office allegedly shows Lopez ordering armed men around just minutes before the killings started. The video does not show the killings nor Lopez shooting at anyone. Nonetheless, it led to a conviction and survived numerous appeals by the defendant’s lawyers.

“This office will never criticize the judicial branch, I accept the separation of powers,” state AG Cesar Jauregui said Thursday in a news conference broadcast on Facebook Live. “The first thing often said when a judgment is unfavorable is to say judges are corrupt. I just want to clarify the Attorney General’s Office did (good) work and you can analyze what the judges did and the public can reach its own conclusions.”

Enrique Lopez Acosta, a.k.a. ‘El Cumbias.’ (State of Chihuahua photo)

Lopez was arrested by the Mexican navy on federal drug charges in December 2010 and served time for those crimes in Sonora. After that, the state of Chihuahua charged him with murder and other crimes. The state secured a conviction and prevailed on appeal, but then the key piece of evidence, the video, was basically put on trial.

Jauregui said it wasn’t possible at the time to secure witnesses against Lopez because the cartel had inspired terror on the residents of San Juanito.

“The way this man (Lopez) conducted himself was scandalous,” Jauregui said. “I assure you the investigators, the prosecutors did their job. There were a lot of (special) interests, but they did not waver. We will appeal.”