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Head of Drug Smuggling Ring Arrested in Mexico

August 17, 2003|From Associated Press

MEXICO CITY — Mexican troops arrested one of the country's most-wanted drug trafficking suspects, Armando Valencia, along with seven top figures in his ring, officials announced Saturday.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said Valencia headed one of the top four drug smuggling operations in Mexico, a key link between Colombian smugglers and the Southwestern U.S. border.

Mexican Atty. Gen. Rafael Macedo de la Concha said at a news conference that the group may have accounted for a third of the drugs smuggled from Mexico to the United States.

Officials said one of Valencia's main smuggling routes was through the Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo.

Defense Secretary Ricardo Vega Garcia said it was "a very cruel cartel with a lot of killings," though he did not list specific incidents.

Officials said Valencia was spotted Friday at a restaurant in Zapopan, near Guadalajara in western Mexico.

Troops followed him to a bar a few miles south in the town of Tlajomulco, where he was arrested later that day without a struggle along with seven alleged aides, including Eloy Trevino, who Vega Garcia said was the group's chief assassin.

"The seven detained were the backbone of the organization and Armando Valencia the head," Macedo said.

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