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Alleged drug lord nabbed on city outskirts

May 21, 2012

Mexican authorities captured one of the country’s most wanted drug-trafficking suspects at a highway checkpoint just outside Guadalajara last month, the Los Angeles Times revealed on Saturday.

Victor Emilio Cazares, 48, was arrested on April 8 with the help of U.S. federal agents. He is believed to be a key figure in the Sinaloa Cartel headed by fugitive billionaire Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Mexican police initially had trouble identifying Cazares because he had significantly altered his appearance through plastic surgery.

Accused of heading a group that smuggled at least 40 tons of cocaine across the border from 2004 to 2007, Cazares was also wanted in the United States. U.S. authorities had offered a reward of up to five million dollars for information leading to his arrest and federal prosecutors in San Diego, where Cazares was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2007, are now seeking his extradition.

Unusually, Mexican authorities did not make the arrest public at the time. Citing U.S. sources, the L.A. Times suggests officials refrained from announcing the capture to comply with an electoral law that impedes the government from influencing elections by promoting its actions. With the presidential campaigns well underway, some Mexican agencies, such as the federal police, have stopped issuing news releases.

Cazares’ arrest will go some way to stem rumors that President Felipe Calderon has been protecting the Sinaloa Cartel while pursuing its rivals.

One of the most powerful criminal organizations in Mexico, the Sinaloa Cartel has long controlled Guadalajara and Jalisco, thus maintaining a sense of stability in the region. The recent increase in violence has been attributed to a turf war with rival gang Los Zetas.

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