Vicente Bermudez Zacarias was fatally shot in the head at extremely close range when he went out for a morning jog.
The Mexican federal judge who halted the extradition order against notorious drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and presided over other high-profile organized criminal cases was gunned down Monday near his home in a town outside Mexico City.
Vicente Bermudez Zacarias was reportedly shot in the head from behind at point blank range when he left his home in Metepec Monday morning to go for a jog. He died on the way to the hospital after neighbors called for help.
The shooting was captured on a video, showing the gunman jog up behind Bermudez before firing. The footage was leaked in the media late Monday in a move authorities condemned for infringing on the investigation. Earlier, the governor of the state of Mexico, Eruviel Avila, revealed that security cameras also recorded the incident and would likely prove indispensable in the investigation.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced Monday that the attorney general has been charged with investigating the assassination.
Bermudez, a district court judge, has handled appeals from El Chapo’s attorneys and suspended the United States extradition order for the most-wanted kingpin earlier this year. El Chapo, boss of the notorious Sinaloa cartel, is currently jailed at a facility near the border with El Paso, Texas, outside the Mexican city Ciudad Juarez after being recaptured for a third time after two mind-boggling escapes from maximum security prisons. El Chapo could still be extradited to the U.S. early next year, according to Mexican officials.
Bermudez has also spearheaded cases targeting other cartel bosses, including Abigael “El Cuini” Gonzalez Valencia, thought to be one of the kingpins of the New Generation Jalisco cartel, and Miguel Trevino, the former head of the Zetas cartel.
Mexico’s Supreme Court President Luis Maria Aguilar Morales also responded to the murder, calling for a swift investigation and safety guarantees for civil servants in the justice system.
“Judges (and) federal judges are people that dedicate their lives, personal, moral and physical integrity in the service of justice in our country and they must have conditions of security and tranquility that guarantee their independence,” Aguilar said.
In the last decade of Mexico’s militarized “war on drugs,” at least one other federal judge has been assassinated, while at least one other survived an attempted killing. Both were involved in organized crime cases.