Security forces captured Mario Ramirez Trevino, the head of Mexico’s Gulf Cartel drug gang, this on Saturday morning near the U.S.-Mexico border.
The man known by the nicknames of X-20 or "The Bald One" was nabbed in in Tamaulipas state by a joint operation between the Mexican police and Attorney’s General Office according to Mexican Interior Ministry spokesman Eduardo Sánchez.
Sánchez added at a Sunday press conference that two alleged bodyguards of Ramirez Trevino were also detained along with weapons used by the Mexican military and $38,000 Mexican pesos.
"The government has reinforced the security strategy with the aim of neutralizing any eventual actions by other criminal organizations with a presence in this region," Sánchez observed in anticipation of a possible backlash by the Gulf Cartel that reportedly controls key smuggling routes in eastern and northeastern Mexico.
The U.S. government had offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Ramirez Trevino who was accused of trafficking cocaine and marijuana through several border crossings.
Ramirez Trevino was the chief of the Gulf Cartel for nearly one year after the gang’s former boss, Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sanchez, was arrested in September 2012.
This weekend’s actions come roughly a month after the head of the Zetas drug cartel was arrested in the northern state of Nuevo Laredo. The Zetas were originally hired to provide protection to the once powerful Gulf Cartel. Yet the former turned on the latter and would eventually take over most of their former employer's territory via a bloody turf war.
The detentions of the Zetas and Gulf Cartel chiefs may be seen as a victory for U.S. intelligence and anti-crime efforts under Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Yet as one Mexican immigrants’ rights activist observed last month, there may be little to celebrate:
Father Pedro Pantoja, a Catholic priest in Saltillo, Mexico, who has been working with migrants for 20 years, said he had just returned from Guatemala, where he saw gang members working with the Zetas collecting thousands of dollars from men and women looking to reach the United States. No matter who is in charge, he said, the system will remain in place as poverty and criminal logistics combine, often with violence used as a way to maintain control.
At least 6000 people were allegedly killed since Peña Nieto took office last December while over 70,000 people were believed to have died in the six years of the presidency of Peña Nieto’s predecessor, Felipe Calderon.
“Organized crime still has all the power, with migrants, with kidnappings and with violence,” he said. “It will continue.”
On the same day that Ramirez Trevino was caught, at least 23 bodies were found in Michoacán, a state where local residents have been fighting the Knights Templar drug gang.
Video Source– YouTube via Reuters
Online Sources – Voice of America; CNN; New York Times; NBC News; El Universal; Huffington Post