MEXICO CITY — Soldiers on Sunday captured Albino Quintero Meraz, described as a major drug trafficker aligned with Mexico's so-called Juarez cartel who claimed to have shipped as much as a ton and a half of cocaine each month from Guatemala to the United States.
At a joint news conference Monday, Defense Secretary Ricardo Vega Garcia and Atty. Gen. Rafael Macedo de la Concha said Meraz was a kingpin on a par with Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman and Ismael Zambada, both fugitives from Sinaloa state, and Tijuana cartel leader Benjamin Arellano Felix, who was captured March 9.
Meraz was taken prisoner in the Gulf of Mexico port city of Veracruz, an important way station for northbound drugs. Six others, including federal police officer Oscar Barron Amador, who allegedly provided protection to Meraz, were also taken into custody, the government said.
As a "cell leader" in the cartel led by Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, Meraz worked with Alcides Ramon Magana to arrange shipments of cocaine by air and sea from Central America to mainland Mexico. Former Quintana Roo state Gov. Mario Villanueva is alleged to have received $500,000 per load in exchange for protection.