Mexican agents arrest brother of Beltran Leyva, drug lord killed in raid
Monday, January 4, 2010
MEXICO CITY -- Mexican authorities announced over the weekend the capture of another brother of the cartel leader whose death last month in a two-hour gun-and-grenade battle against special forces sparked brutal revenge attacks.
Federal police revealed Saturday night that Carlos Beltrán Leyva, 40, was arrested Wednesday in Culiacan, capital of the western state of Sinaloa, carrying weapons and a false driver's license.
Two weeks ago, Mexican marines, operating with logistical and intelligence support from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, raided a condominium in the resort city of Cuernavaca, where they shot and killed Arturo Beltrán Leyva, the reputed head of one of Mexico's five major drug-smuggling organizations. The death of the self-styled "boss of bosses," who showed a penchant for torture and beheadings, was a major coup for President Felipe Calderón, who has deployed 50,000 soldiers to fight the cartels.
In the aftermath of Arturo Beltrán Leyva's death, U.S. officials heaped praise on the president and his forces for their courage and resolve in fighting the cartels, which ship billions of dollars worth of cocaine, heroin and marijuana to American consumers. But in Mexico, the killing also created a storm of criticism -- including accusations that his death was a state-sanctioned assassination and that federal forces had descended to the level of their enemies.
The day after Arturo Beltrán Leyva was killed, Mexican newspapers and television showed a photograph of the reputed drug lord dead on the floor of his condo, his corpse displayed like a trophy, covered in carefully arranged banknotes and religious jewelry.
Six Mexican forensics experts were suspended for allegedly altering the crime scene, but according to Mexican media reports, the forensic team, which included a doctor, said an unnamed official ordered them to do so.
After the government named the lone Mexican marine to die in the raid, his family was killed by hooded commandos in their home hours after his burial. Among the dead was his mother.
The Beltrán Leyva brothers worked as partners running the Sinaloa cartel with the most wanted drug kingpin in Mexico, Joaquín "Chapo" Guzmán, until a vicious split among feuding clans in 2008.
A third brother, Alfredo, was arrested in January 2008. One of the other five brothers, Mario, remains at large and is listed as one of Mexico's 24 most wanted drug lords, with a $2 million reward offered for his capture.
Calderón's U.S.-backed war against the drug cartels has led to steeply elevated levels of violence and death in Mexico. There were 7,724 murders tied to organized crime in Mexico last year -- up from 5,630 in 2008, according to the newspaper El Universal. In some of the most violent states, such as Chihuahua, the numbers of civilian dead each month often far exceeded the loss of life in Iraq and Afghanistan.