Mexico captures 'drug lord Beltran-Leyva'

Authorities say leader of Beltran-Leyva crime syndicate, involved in violence and drug trade, captured.

    Mexico captures 'drug lord Beltran-Leyva'
    Mexican police had arrested several of Beltran-Leyva 'soldiers' prior to Hector's capture [File/Getty Images]

    Mexican authorities have captured alleged drug lord Hector Beltran Leyva, the head of a family crime syndicate that waged a bloody conflict with a former ally, the interior ministry confirmed.

    Officials said on Wednesday evening the purported head of the Beltran Levya drug gang was captured inside a seafood eatery in the city of San Miguel de Allende, a popular enclave for foreigners and artists in the central state of Guanajuato.

    No shots were fired in the brief operation, which culminated an 11-month investigation, federal criminal investigations chief Tomas Zeron said at an evening news conference.

    The officials said DNA testing was being done to confirm the suspect's identity.

    Beltran Leyva is the leader of a cartel named after his brother Arturo, who was killed by Mexican troops in a shootout in late 2009. The US government said the group is responsible for trafficking cocaine, marijuana, heroin and methamphetamine.

    Two other brothers are in prison for their involvement in the cartel.

    "Obviously this is not the Beltran Leyvas' organisation in its strongest moment ... but it continues to be a criminal organisation capable of generating localised violence in some states," Mexican security expert Jorge Chabat said.

    Zeron said Beltran Leyva had adopted a "moderate profile" after becoming head of the cartel to avoid detection. The investigation determined he had made his home in the central state of Queretaro, where he passed himself off as a businessman selling art and real estate.

    US indictment

    Beltran Leyva has been indicted in courts in the District of Columbia and New York. US authorities had offered a reward of up to $5m for information leading to his capture.

    It's a huge deal to get Hector Beltran Leyva, who took over the most bloodthirsty cartel in Mexico.

    Andrew Selee, Mexico expert

    Al Jazeera's Adam Rainey, who is reporting from Mexico City, said that the suspect may not be the biggest drug leader in Mexico, but his organisation, a splinter group of the Sinaloa cartel, had been blamed for carrying out one of the bloodiest turf wars.   

    He said that the Beltran Leyvas group reportedly left the Sinaloa cartel in 2008, after an alleged "betrayal" among the leadership.  

    Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto has stepped up campaign against the country's several drug syndicates since he took over as the country's leader in 2012.

    In February of this year, Mexican and US authorities captured the country's most wanted man, drug kingpin Joaquin Guzman, known as El Chapo or "Shorty", after 13 years on the run.

    In 2013, authorities also captured the head of the ultra-violent and powerful Zetas drug cartel, Miguel Angel Trevino.

    Andrew Selee, a Mexico expert at the Wilson Center think tank in Washington, said the Beltran Leyva cartel established a pattern of extreme brutality that has since become the hallmark of other gangs such as the Zetas.

    "It's a huge deal to get Hector Beltran Leyva, who took over the most bloodthirsty cartel in Mexico. The Beltran Leyva organisation was known for corrupting the upper ranks of government and terrorising communities," Selee said.

    "Following on the capture of 'El Chapo' Guzman and Miguel Trevino, this is probably the most elusive figure who has still been at large."

    According to reports, at least 80,000 people have died in drug-related killings in Mexico since 2007.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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