Mexican officials say they have arrested a suspected drug cartel boss linked to a string of deadly gunbattles in the northern town of Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas.
National Security Commissioner Renato Sales says police detained Cleofas Alberto Martínez Gutiérrez in Mexico City based on intelligence provided by the Mexican army.
Sales says the suspect was detained with weapons, drugs and false identification. He allegedly was in charge of the group involved in Sunday’s shootouts with authorities, in which nine suspected criminals died in gunbattles with government forces during an anti-cartel operation in Reynosa, Tamaulipas.
The Tamaulipas state government said the violence erupted early Sunday after soldiers, marines and police began the operation aimed at a drug cartel that operates in Reynosa.
A state police official who insisted on anonymity told The Associated Press that the operation was aimed at arresting the Gulf Cartel’s leader in Reynosa. The official would not say if Juan Manuel Loza, also known as “El Comandante Toro,” was caught.
The state government said at least three armed clashes occurred over several hours, and gang members also set vehicles on fire and blocked roads. Four soldiers were injured when their vehicle overturned, officials said.
Similar events happened in April 2015 when authorities launched an offensive against another local leader of the Gulf Cartel.
Tamaulipas has suffered through several waves of violence in recent years tied to the drug trade. The Gulf Cartel battled with its former allies in the Zetas cartel for a number of years, but officials say that violence since 2015 has often resulted from a dispute between rival factions of the Gulf Cartel.
Commissioner Sales did not give more details during the press conference on Monday March 14th, but another government official said Martinez is believed to be the Gulf Cartel’s No. 2 boss in Reynosa. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and agreed to discuss the case only if not quoted by name.
with information by MARIA VERZA AND EDUARDO CASTILLO for Thenews.mx
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