By RICARDO CASTILLO
Esperanza Gutiérrez Rojano ran like hell out of the plush southern Mexico City Artz Pedregal mall on Wednesday, July 24, a little past 5 p.m., to no avail. Less than a block away, she was stopped by a city policeman and, in no time, she was surrounded by patrol cars. She was laden onto a pick-up converted into a patrol, and whisked away to police headquarters.
There was never a doubt she was one of the culprits of the double murder that had just happened at the fashionable Huna Chinese restaurant inside the mall.
The first police news report about an hour later claimed that the detainee had confessed that she had gunned down in cold blood a man she’d met on Facebook after she learned he’d been unfaithful. Her story, which spread like wildfire over the world wide web as a “crime of passion,” soon crumbled like a house of cards.
She promptly confessed she was a profession hit woman who’d been hired for 5,000 pesos, about $400 dollars, to do the job.
Only it wasn’t any job. It was a well-orchestrated murder. Inside the restaurant, Gutiérrez Rojano was actually accompanied by another gunman and both of them unloaded their .40 Glock-brand handguns over the bodies of Israeli citizens Benjamin Yeshurum Sutchi and Alon Azulay, both well-known mobsters in Israel and in Mexico. From what we know, Azulay, 41, was the 44-yea´-old Sutchi’s bodyguard.
In what detectives have determined was not so much a coincidence, it turns out that the day before the execution, just a few days before another Israeli mobster, Erez Akrishevky, was arrested in Cancun in a joint raid between Mexican, Israeli and Interpol authorities. Suctchi and Akrishevsky had been “business partners” in Mexico before, but thus far there is no link between the assassination of Sutchi and Akrishevsky’s arrest. Akrishevsky was extradited to Israel immediately.
According to former Mexico City Security Undersecretary Gabriel Regino, who gave several radio and television interviews due to his familiarity with the two Israelite mobsters, both arrived in Mexico in 2001 after having escaped from a prison in their native land. Both had been serving 18-year sentences after participating in the murder of Manny Aslan in Mexico, the son of alleged Israeli mobster Ezequiel Aslan.
According to Gabriel Regino, now a lawyer, one reason behind the murder was because Ben Sutchi had revealed Askeshevsky’s whereabouts in Cancun. But that’s just a possible explanation.
Regino told Radio Fórmula newsman Joaquín López Dóriga the day after the murder part of Sutchi’s story in Mexico. He was the officer in charge of his arrest back on June 28, 2005, at a hotel in the Polanco district. When he was arrested, he had on him 43 doses of cocaine, obviously with intent to sell.
Regino noted that Sutchi first arrived in Mexico in 2003, brought from Israel by a group of Jewish businessmen from Polanco and Tecamachalco who hired him for protection given the horrific rash of kidnappings of Jewish Mexicans at the time in that area.
Benjamin Yeshurum – apparently Sutchi’s original last name – was a Mossad trained operative, but by the time he arrived in Mexico, even as an investigator, he had already skipped jail in Israel and had hidden for a couple of years in Venezuela. His jailing was on charges of participating in the Manny Aslan hit.
In Mexico, Sutchi soon made contact with local drug dealers and, after a while, became a suspect. It was then that Interpol and Mexico’s Center for Intelligence and National Security (Cisen) requested support from the Mexico City police. This was a roundabout for authorities since they claimed Sutchi had bought protection from the then-Federal Agency of Investigations that belonged to the Attorney General’s Office under President Vicente Fox’s mandate.
Regino narrated that he carried out the detention of Sutchi – whom he had never met before – and right up front, knowing he was about to be arrested for possession, Sutchi proposed to Regino:
“I’ll give you a million dollars if you let me work.” The phrase “let me work” is typical of wrongdoers who bribe police. Regino answered:
“Do you have a million dollars here?”
“No, but if you let me make a phone call, I’ll have them here in no time.”
It was then that Regino decided to move Sutchi to headquarters on Liverpool street in the Pink Zone. And it was then that Regino received a call from the Israeli Embassy telling him to keep a close watch on Sutchi and to hold him in a safe, impenetrable area. Regino said he called for backup and ended up that night with “84 agents” guarding the building.
“I knew then he had been trained by Mossad and was very handy with weapons … we had to be careful,” Regino said.
The next day, a man arrived from the Israeli Embassy. “He was bulky, huge,” Regino recalled in the López Dóriga interview, “and he pulled out a face mask and in going into the room where Sutchi was being held, covered Sutchi’s head and began screaming at him in Hebrew. Sutchi just crumbled He seemed to become very small. I don’t know what the man told him, but he destroyed Sutchi.”
Then Sutchi was taken to the airport. A special government-owned jet plane arrived from Israel and, Regino said, two men wearing dark suits got off the plane, and, without uttering a word, grabbed Sutchi and put him aboard. With absolutely no protocol, the plane left just as it had arrived, Regino said.
Sutchi was jailed in Israel ever since and released in February 2019. He returned to Mexico, entering the nation from Panama, Regino said, with a fake European Union passport.
Since his arrival in Mexico, according to sources from the Fiscal General of the Republic (FGR), Sutchi touched home with some old friends, particularly with the Beltrán Leyva drug cartel. In the old days, Sutchi had apparently made friends with U.S. citizen Edgar Valdéz, popularly known in Mexico as “La Barbie,” now spending a lifetime sentence in prison on the United States.
Based on the info now flying around, it seems that Sutchi’s presence in Mexico immediately raised concerns among some of the people who had known him previously. What is generally accepted as a fact by now is that for his murder a professional organization was hired. At the time of the gunning down, there was a distraction made by two armed men – trained pros, based on the video – who disarmed one policeman and shot at a patrol. This was apparently part of the getaway plan that went afoul with the arrest of Esperanza Gutiérrez Rojano.
Regino also said that “it’s not just every day that you see this kind of a job and it was not a crime of passion, but a liquidation that was hired and carried out.
The manner of the murder, the time, the place – you can’t get any more public than the Artz Pedregal shopping mall – point to a high-brow crime execution, probably intended as a message to other people in the drug trade not to mess with the executioner.
But who was the executioner? Gutiérrez Rojano told police she was hired by the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), but she could not prove it. For now, the leader of the CJNG, Nemesio Oceguera Naranjo, nicknamed “El Mencho,” remains the main suspect in this hit job.
Will somebody find him? The FBI is offering $10 million greenbacks for info leading to his arrest, but there’s no word so far of his whereabouts.
In the meantime, “relatives” in Mexico City picked up the remains of the two executed men, who, by now, should be resting in peace in their native Israel.