Mexico's most wanted man, drug kingpin Joaquin Guzman, known as El Chapo or "Shorty", has been captured in Mexico in what marks a major coup in a grisly fight against drug gangs.

After 13 years on the run, Guzman was captured early on Saturday morning in a hotel in Mazatlan, a resort city located on the Pacific coast state of Sinaloa, by US and Mexican law enforcement officials,

The US had offered a $5m reward for information leading to the arrest of Guzman, who is accused of being behind much of the drug violence that has plagued Mexico for years.

Analyst says arrest of 'El Chapo' could trigger more violence in Mexico

Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement released by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) that the apprehension of Joaquin Guzman is a landmark achievement, and a victory for the citizens of both Mexico and the United States.

"Guzman was one of the world's most wanted men and the alleged head of a drug-running empire that spans continents," Holder said.

"The criminal activity Guzman allegedly directed contributed to the death and destruction of millions of lives across the globe through drug addiction, violence, and corruption."

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said: "The operation led by the Mexican government overnight to capture Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman Loera is a significant victory and milestone in our common interest of combating drug trafficking, violence and illicit activity along our shared border."

The DOJ hailed the arrest of Guzman and expressed their willingness to further collaborate with Mexico to secure the border region.

Drugs' war

Authorities in Chicago last year dubbed Guzman the city's first ‘Public Enemy No.1’ since gangster Al Capone.

His arrest deals a major blow to Mexico's biggest drug cartel, an empire that stretches along the Pacific coast and smuggles drugs to the US,  Europe and Asia.

Mexican forces were acting on a tip-off from the US Drug Enforcement Agency and US Homeland Security intelligence, an official said.

The arrest is a major coup for the 14-month administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto, which captured the head of the ultra-violent and powerful Zetas drug cartel, Miguel Angel Trevino, in July 2013.

Nearly 80,000 people have died in drug-related killings in Mexico since former President Felipe Calderon sent in the army in early 2007 to quell the powerful drug bosses, a policy Pena Nieto has criticised but found tough to break with.

Source: Agencies