Suspects in killings of 13 women arrested in northern Mexico

Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Jun 12 (EFE).- Six gang members were arrested in connection with the murders of 13 women between 2009 and 2011 in northern Mexico, the Chihuahua state Attorney General's Office said.

The victims' remains were found last year, special prosecutor Jorge Gonzalez said.

The suspects, who were arrested early Tuesday, belong to a gang that sexually exploited women, employing them at several businesses, including a modeling agency, Gonzalez said.

The women were later forced to sell drugs and work as prostitutes in downtown Ciudad Juarez, located across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, the prosecutor said.

The gang had 12 members, of whom six were already imprisoned on drug and femicide charges, Gonzalez said.

Adrian Arturo Roldan, a member of the gang who was killed in a shootout in April, provided investigators with information that allowed them to track down the suspects, the special prosecutor said.

The suspects who are already in prison will face additional charges, Gonzalez said.

Ciudad Juarez first gained notoriety in the early 1990s, when young women began to disappear in the area.

More than 500 women have been killed in Ciudad Juarez since 1993, according to the National Human Rights Commission, with the majority of the cases going unsolved.

In most of the slayings, the victims were young women from poor families who moved to the border city from all over Mexico to work in the many assembly plants, known as "maquiladoras," built there to take advantage of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Investigators have not determined who is behind the killings, although there has been speculation that serial killers, organized crime, people traffickers, drug smugglers and child pornographers, among others, may be involved.