The Mexican government announced the capture of Arnoldo Villa Sanchez, the second in command of Mexico’s most dangerous drug cartel, the Beltran-Leyva Gang. According to Reuters, Mexican federal police captured Villa yesterday in Mexico City. “The center of his operations was in Mexico City,” national security commissioner Alejandro Rubido explained, “with presence also in the states of Mexico, Chiapas, Guerrero, Puebla and Tlaxcala.” The commissioner added that Villa preferred high-rise hotels and other expensive areas of the city.
The arrest may come as a shock to some city officials who have long denied any drug cartels operated within city limits. The Associated Press reported that many have now acknowledged cartels use Mexico City as a sale and transit point. Villa answered only to cartel leader Hector Beltran Leyva and acted as his head of security.
— C. Cervantes Sapien (@sapiencarlos) April 16, 2014
The Beltran-Leyva Gang has become associated with grizzly drug violence in Mexico. Back in March, former head of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency Anthony Coulson told the Associated Press that he suspected the gang to be involved in a massacre along the Arizona-Mexican border. “My best guess is this is the Beltran Leyvas trying to re-establish control in Sonora,” he said adding that the area was “a key strategic point, because of such a huge uptick of trafficking into Southern California.”
In 2009, the gang suffered a serious blow when kingpin, founder, and brother of the current leader Arturo Beltran Leyva was killed in a shootout. He was considered one of Mexico’s most wanted men, with a price tag on his head worth over two million dollars. The BBC called him “the boss of bosses”. Footage of his death was released on LiveLeak:
His brother Hector has lead the gang since Arturo Beltran Leyva’s death. The United States Department of State has placed a reward of five million dollars for information leading to his conviction or capture.
Beltran Leyva’s lieutenants, like the now captured Villia, were also of interest to the United States. The Department of the Treasury designated Villa a narcotics trafficker under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. The Mexican government had offered thirty million pesos for his arrest. It is unknown if anyone collected.
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