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A showdown over drug money between suspected Mexican illegal aliens in Alabama ended with four men in prison and four shipped back to Mexico in body bags.

Three suspected illegal aliens from Mexico and another man have been arrested and charged with capital murder for electrocuting, stabbing, suffocating and beating five men to death in a murder-for-hire.

The four suspects were paid between $400,000 and $450,000 to torture the victims with electric shock and slit their throats in an Alabama apartment, police said Tuesday. The murders have been tied to a drug cartel that transports cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana, the Birmingham News reported.

Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry said he believed the murders could have been revenge slayings after the victims embezzled money from a drug cartel.

"It revolves around money, and that money revolves around drugs," he said.

Curry said there might have been other targets on the hit list who escaped before police arrived.

Authorities found the bodies of Angel Horacio Vega-Gonzalez, 23, and his brother Gustavo Vega-Gonzalez, also known as Armando Lopez, 24; Ezequiel Rebollar-Terevan, 23; Jaime Echeverria, 30; and a fifth unknown victim Wednesday.

The coroner's office is waiting for dental records before the fifth victim can be identified. The other four victims' bodies have been shipped back to their families in Mexico.

Suspects Alejandros Castaneda, 31, and Juan Francisco Castaneda, 25, brothers; Rodriguez Jaime Duenas, 22; and Christopher Scott Jones, 40 are being held in the Shelby County Jail without bond.

A clean crime scene

District Attorney Robby Owens said the apartment crime scene was "well-manicured" by suspects and didn't appear to be a location where brutal slayings had taken place.

"This was the cleanest crime scene I've ever walked on," he said.

Owens said the murderers used electrical wall sockets to shock the victims three days before the bodies were discovered. Finding the men was not an easy task, he said. They had multiple addresses and used several names. But citizens helped by calling police and providing tips about their whereabouts.

"We had five people, we didn't know who they were, why they were there," Curry said. "It took a significant amount of time to get past that hurdle."

The suspects participated in a video teleconference hearing before Shelby County Circuit Judge J. Michael Joiner Tuesday. Three of the men could not speak English and required an interpreter to help them communicate, turning a 15-minute hearing into a two-hour ordeal, the Birmingham News reported.

Duenas and Alejandros Castaneda told the judge they were innocent.

"I don't know why two charges when I didn't do anything," Duenas said.

Alejandros Castaneda added: "I was out of town when this happened, so how can I be charged?"

Crime creeping across U.S. border

The drug-related murders came on the heels of recent reports of tightened U.S. security along the Southern border as cartels send murderers-for-hire into the U.S. Last week, Texas and New Mexico authorities reported a hit list identifying 15 to 20 targets in the two states alone.

Illegal immigrant violence has claimed the lives of many Americans. As WND reported earlier, MS-13, also known as Mara Salvatrucha, a highly organized and well-funded Central American gang, has infiltrated at least 33 states across the U.S., according to law-enforcement authorities. The gang is well-known in Los Angeles, Houston, New York and Washington, D.C., for excessive brutality. Any person suspected of cooperating with authorities is hunted down, tortured and killed. Initiation rites include kickings, beatings and gang rapes.

Deborah Schurman-Kauflin of the Violent Crimes Institute in Atlanta analyzed 1,500 cases from January 1999 through April 2006 that included rapes, murders and child molestation crimes committed by illegal aliens. Approximately 41 percent of the crimes were sexual homicides and serial murders.

Though no federal statistics are kept on murders or any other crimes committed by illegal aliens, a number of groups have produced estimates based on data collected from prisons, news reports and independent research.

Twelve Americans are murdered every day by illegal aliens, according to 2006 statistics released by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. If those numbers are correct, it translates to 4,380 Americans murdered annually by illegal aliens – more than the U.S. death toll of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. That's more than 30,000 Americans killed by illegal aliens since Sept. 11, 2001.

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