Sergio Villarreal arrested in another blow to Mexico’s Beltrán Leyva cartel
By Dialogo September 14, 2010
One of Mexico’s most-wanted drug traffickers, Sergio Villarreal alias ‘El Grande,’ was arrested in Puebla (in central Mexico), in another significant blow to the top ranks of the Beltrán Leyva cartel, which is now in a “weakened” state, according to a presidential spokesperson.
Elements of the Marines detained “Sergio Villarreal ‘El Grande,’ one of the principal operatives of the Beltrán Leyva cartel,” Alejandro Poiré, presidential spokesperson for national-security affairs, confirmed in a statement to the press.
Villarreal and Héctor Beltrán Leyva were engaged in a bloody dispute with Edgar Valdez ‘La Barbie,’ detained on 30 August, for the leadership of this drug-trafficking organization, one of the seven most significant in Mexico, which was left vacant following the death of leader Arturo Beltrán Leyva in a military operation in December.
Following the detention of ‘La Barbie,’ the Mexican media cited official reports last week suggesting that it was really a voluntary surrender, something that was subsequently denied by President Felipe Calderón.
The Beltrán Leyva organization “is one of the most extensive” in Mexico but “is in a severely weakened state,” Poiré argued after enumerating the blows it has suffered: the death of Arturo Beltrán and the arrests of Villarreal, ‘La Barbie,’ Gerardo Álvarez ‘El Indio’ (in April 2010), and two other Beltrán Leyva brothers, Alfredo (January 2008) and Carlos (December 2009).
‘El Grande’ [The Big One], so nicknamed for his hefty build, and two other men did not resist their arrest by thirty marines in a residential area of the city of Puebla, around 130 km southeast of the Mexican capital, according to the spokesperson.
Villarreal’s arrest is the Mexican government’s fifth major success so far this year in its fight against the cartels, which it accuses of more than 28,000 murders since December 2006 and against which it has deployed around 50,000 military personnel.
The others were the detentions of ‘La Barbie,’ José Antonio Medina ‘Don Pepe,’ reputed to be the first Mexican trafficker of heroin to the United States, and Teodoro García Simentel ‘El Teo,’ leader of a drug-trafficking organization on the northern border, in addition to the death in an operation of Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Coronel, considered the third-ranking member of the powerful Sinaloa cartel.
In his appearance, Poiré described Villarreal as a “very dangerous and high-ranking” criminal within the cartel and announced that a warrant had been issued for his arrest on drug-trafficking charges and that the attorney-general’s office linked him with at least seven of its investigations.
The detainee operated mainly in the Mexican capital and in the states of Puebla, Mexico (in the center of the country), Morelos (center), Guerrero (south), Nuevo Léon (north), Sinaloa (northwest), and Quintana Roo (southeast), he specified.
Dozens of corpses, many of them decapitated or hanging from bridges, have appeared this year in cities like Acapulco (south) or Cuernavaca (center), presumed victims of ‘La Barbie’s’ battles against Villarreal and Héctor Beltrán Leyva, who is now expected to take absolute control of the cartel.
Of the four cartel bosses for whom the attorney-general’s office offered a reward of 30 million pesos (2.2 million dollars), Héctor Beltrán Leyva is the only one to remain at liberty following the falls of Villarreal, ‘La Barbie,’ and Arturo Beltrán Leyva.