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Drug boss arrested, Mexico says

THE WORLD

January 22, 2008|From Reuters

MEXICO CITY — Mexican troops arrested a leading member of a major drug gang and seized two suitcases containing about $900,000 in cash, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office said Monday.

Soldiers detained Alfredo Beltran Leyva and three other people Sunday in the northwestern city of Culiacan, the spokeswoman said.

Beltran Leyva, who has four brothers also accused of being leading traffickers, is accused of being the head of two teams of hit men known as "The Baldies" and "The Blondies" in two western states.

"Among his key functions was transporting drugs, money laundering and bribing officials," she said.

Prosecutors say Beltran Leyva is a close lieutenant of Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, Mexico's most-wanted man and the head of an alliance of smugglers based in Sinaloa state. Guzman escaped from jail in 2001 and remains at large. The Sinaloa gang is in a bitter fight with the Gulf cartel for control of smuggling routes.

More than 2,500 people died in gangland-style killings last year as President Felipe Calderon launched an army crackdown on drug cartels.

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