Another major Mexican drug kingpin arrested

Vicente \"The Engineer\" Carrillo Leyva is presented before the press after his arrest - Mexico City, 2 April, 2009. Carillo was one of the leaders of the Juarez cartel.

Vicente \"The Engineer\" Carrillo Leyva is presented before the press after his arrest - Mexico City, 2 April, 2009. Carillo was one of the leaders of the Juarez cartel.

Eduardo Herrera

MEXICO CITY, Mexico – In a significant new blow against the drug cartels, Mexican army and federal police forces (PFP) captured drug trafficker Vicente “The Engineer” Carrillo Leyva, one of the leaders of the Juarez cartel and the son of deceased gang leader Amado “The lord of the skies” Carrillo Fuentes.

According to EFE, officials from the Public Prosecution Service (PGR) and Security Ministry (SSP) arrested “The Engineer” as he exercised in a park in an exclusive residential Mexico City neighbourhood where he passed himself off as a motor trade businessman from Jalisco.

His false identity was revealed, according to El Universal, because his wife did not change her surnames. Her identification led to the whereabouts of Carrillo Leyva who was going under the false name Alejandro Peralta Álvarez.

According to federal authorities, “The Engineer” and his uncle, Vicente “The Viceroy” Carrillo Fuentes, shared the leadership of the Juarez Cartel, a criminal organisation which is thought to smuggle between 20 and 30 tonnes of marijuana and similar quantities of cocaine to the U.S. every month.

Carrillo Leyva was in charge of “controlling and hiding illicit assets” and followed his uncle's instructions, said organised crime prosecutor Marisela Morales to AFP.

Mexican authorities offered a US$2.1 million reward for Carrillo Leyva who was among the 40 most-wanted drug traffickers in the country and, once his identity was confirmed, he was taken to a maximum security prison. La Jornada explained that Carrillo Leyva will appear before a federal judge to begin extradition to the United States.

The U.S. government congratulated Mexico on the arrest of Carrillo Leyva, and according to La Jornada, stated that this was one of the greatest blows against the operational structure of the Juarez cartel since 1997. Leslie Basset, Chargé d'Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico said, “His capture represents another significant victory for Mexican justice,” adding “this is the latest in a series of arrests of senior drug traffickers in Mexico and highlights the determination of President Felipe Calderón and his administration to fight the cartels head-on”.

El Nuevo Siglo de Torreón, stressed that this was the fourth major blow by President Calderón's government against the main drug cartels in recent weeks. In Monterrey on 24 March, authorities captured Héctor Huerta Ríos, alias “La Burra” (The Donkey), another key figure in the Beltrán Leyva cartel. On 20 March, Sigifredo Nájera “El Canicón” (Big Marble) from the Golfo cartel was arrested in Saltillo and on 19 March, the army captured Vicente “El Vicentillo” Zambada Niebla, son of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, one of the leaders of the Sinaloa cartel.

According to EFE, authorities accused Carrillo Leyva of “issuing instructions and concealing the organisation’s illegal proceeds” under the supervision of his uncle, “The Viceroy”.

This latest arrest coincides with the unanimous approval in Senate of Mexico's Property Confiscation Law, drafted to enable the seizure of assets acquired with the proceeds of organised crime, especially drug trafficking.

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