[QODLink]
Americas
Mexico captures top drug trafficker
Long-sought Edgar Valdez faces drug trafficking charges in the US and is known for brutal tactics to wipe out rivals.
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2010 18:31 GMT
US authorities had offered a $2m reward for information leading to the arrest of 'La Barbie' [AFP]

Mexican officials have announced the arrest of a US-born suspected drug trafficker nicknamed "the Barbie" in a major victory for the government amid spiralling drug violence.

Edgar Valdez Villareal, a Mexican-American, who faces trafficking charges in the US, has been blamed for a vicious turf war that has included bodies hung from bridges and shootouts in central Mexico.

Federal police caught Villareal, the Texas-born leader of the Beltran Leyva gang based in central Mexico, in a house in a residential area on the edge of the state of Morelos, near Mexico City, a police spokesman told Reuters.

The spokesman said Villareal, one of the most sought after by authorities in both Mexico and the US, put up little resistance.

Monday's announcement was confirmed by the attorney-general's office, the interior and public security ministries and Felipe Calderon, the Mexican president, on Twitter.

Intelligence operation

The Public Safety department said in a statement the arrest was the culmination of a yearlong intelligence operation.

in depth

 

  Timeline: Mexico's war on drugs
  Riz Khan: Mexican organised crime
  Videos:
  Migrants massacred in Mexico
  Trauma in Mexico's deadliest city
  On patrol in the drug war
  'Corrupt' police in drug war
  US ranchers dragged into drug war
  New tactic in Mexico drug war

Al Jazeera's Mariana Sanchez, reporting from Mexico City, said officials offered no more details except a photograph showing Villareal being detained.

"He has been captured alive so this could bring a wealth of information to authorities about how the gangs operate and all of their current operations," Sanchez said.

Villareal, 37, has been indicted in the US on charges he distributed thousands of kilogrammes of cocaine in the eastern US between 2004 and 2006.

US authorities have put up a $2m reward for information leading to Villareal's arrest.

While the Mexican authorities hailed the arrest of Villareal a new victory in the war on drugs, critics say that this war bears a high cost.

High cost

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Colin Harding, a Latin America analyst, said: "Civilians are in the frontline most of the time.

The civilian population is not being protected by the federal authorities and there no is evidence at all that the flow of drugs into the US, which the different cartels has been battling about, is diminished at all."

The capture of Villareal - the third major drug lord brought down by Mexico's security forces in less than a year - comes on the heels of the killing by Mexican soldiers of another drug boss, Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel, in July.

The Beltran Leyva gang, one of many violent drug gangs operating in Mexico, was dealt a severe blow with the death of its head Arturo last December and then the arrest of his younger brother, Carlos.

The group broke off from the powerful Sinaloa drug trafficking organisation in 2008.

Despite the major arrests, Mexico's drug gang violence has only grown bloodier since Calderon launched his crackdown in 2006, claiming more than 28,000 lives.

Latest violence

In the latest violence, a 12-hour battle left a soldier and six attackers dead in the eastern town of Panuco.

The armed men opened fire and launched grenades at a government power station as they tried to escape the soldiers, causing a power outage in a large part of town, Salvador Mikel Rivera, the attorney-general in the state of Veracruz, where Panuco is located, said.

Meanwhile, for the first time in its history, the border city of Ciudad Juarez cancelled its traditional September 15 celebration of Mexico's Independence from Spain, Mayor Jose Reyes announced on Monday.

Reyes said authorities had not received any specific threat surrounding the event but decided it was too dangerous for large crowds to gather in the city.

Ciudad Juarez has become one of the world's most dangerous cities amid a turf war between drug gangs.

The cancellation was especially a blow this year because Mexico is celebrating its bicentennial independence anniversary.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Assam officials upset that WWII-era Stillwell Road won't be used in transnational highway linking four Asian nations.
Informal health centres are treating thousands of Syrian refugees in Turkey, easing the pressure on local hospitals.
Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are keeping a close eye on local supporters of the hard-line Middle East group.
Wastewater ponds dot the landscape in US states that produce gas; environmentalists say they’re a growing threat.
China President Xi Jinping's Mongolia visit brings accords in the areas of culture, energy, mining and infrastructure.
join our mailing list