Mexican police said Wednesday they have captured a man identified as the second highest-ranking figure in the once-powerful Beltran Leyva drug cartel.
The head of Mexico's federal police, Monte Alejandro Rubido, said suspect Arnoldo Villa Sanchez was arrested Tuesday, in an upscale Mexico City neighborhood along with another man, two guns and several packages of synthetic drugs. Police said Villa Sanchez had coordinated a shipment of about 265 kilograms (584 pounds) of cocaine found earlier during raids in Mexico City.
Rubido said Villa Sanchez, 40, operated out of Mexico City, and answered only to cartel leader Hector Beltran Leyva.
While city officials have long denied that drug cartels operate in Mexico City, they have acknowledged the city is used as a transit point for drug shipments and retail sales.
Rubido said Villa Sanchez's operations included five nearby states.
A U.S. Treasury Department chart from 2013 detailing the Beltran Leyva financial network listed Villa Sanchez — also known as Erick Rene Calderon Sanchez — as Hector Beltran Leyva's "head of security."
The report noted that he was the majority shareholder in a cartel-dominated private security firm. There have long been complaints that private security firms that provide guard and bodyguard services in Mexico, are often poorly regulated and infiltrated by criminal elements.
The Treasury Department designated Villa Sanchez under the 'kingpin' act, and noted "Villa Sanchez has carried out numerous acts of violence on behalf of his cartel bosses."
The cartel's importance diminished after the arrest of one of the Beltran Leyva brothers and the death of Arturo Beltran Leyva in a shootout with Mexican marines in 2009.
Arturo Beltrán Leyva, whose henchmen were known to dismember and decapitate police and rival gang members and had successfully infiltrated Mexicans security forces in recent years, was killed this past December along with six bodyguards in a shoot out that lasted 90 minutes at a luxury condo in Cuernavaca, an hour south of Mexico City.
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