Oct 1, 2014 7:45 PM
Mexico: Alleged drug boss Beltran believed caught
The Associated Press
MEXICO CITY (AP) Alleged cartel capo Hector Beltran Leyva is believed to have been captured, two Mexican federal officials said Wednesday, which would be the latest in a string of high-profile drug arrests in the country.
The officials said DNA testing was being done to confirm the suspect's identity. They spoke on condition of anonymity because authorities had not yet made the news public.
Details of the arrest were not immediately available. The federal Attorney General's Office announced a news conference for later in the day.
If confirmed, the arrest comes just months after the capture of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the elusive boss of the Sinaloa cartel, which is considered the most powerful drug gang in Mexico. He was caught in February after more than a decade on the run following his escape from prison.
Hector Beltran Leyva, 49, is said to have assumed leadership of the Beltran Leyva cartel after his brother Arturo was killed by Mexican troops in a shootout in late 2009. Two other brothers are behind bars for their involvement in the cartel.
The gang terrorized parts of central Mexico for years, including Morelos state to the south of Mexico City, although it declined somewhat after the brothers' arrests and killing. Last November, the U.S. Treasury Department said the cartel appeared to be reorganizing and regaining some power.
"Obviously this is not the Beltran Leyvas' organization in its strongest moment ... but it continues to be a criminal organization capable of generating localized violence in some states," Mexican security expert Jorge Chabat said.
Hector Beltran Leyva has been indicted in courts in the District of Columbia and New York. U.S. authorities have offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his capture.
According to the U.S. State Department, Beltran Leyva, alias "The H" and "The Engineer," was born Feb. 16, 1965, in the northern Mexican state of Sinaloa, a cradle of drug trafficking.
The Beltran Leyva cartel was originally part of Guzman's Sinaloa cartel, but broke with that group in 2008.
The U.S. government says the Beltran Leyva gang is responsible for trafficking cocaine, marijuana, heroin and methamphetamine.
At least seven top Mexican cartel figures have been captured or killed since 2009, including Guzman, who was nabbed in the Pacific Coast resort of Mazatlan.
In 2013, authorities in northern Mexico arrested Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, alias "Z-40," leader of the brutal Zetas cartel. Fellow Zetas leader and founder Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, alias "El Lazca," was killed by marines the previous year.
Associated Press writers Adriana Gomez-Licon in Sao Paulo and Peter Orsi in Mexico City contributed to this report.
E. Eduardo Castillo on Twitter: https://twitter.com/EECastilloAP