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Mexico, Ecuador bust transnational drug operation

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By E. EDUARDO CASTILLO
The Associated Press
Thursday, March 24, 2011; 12:05 AM

MEXICO CITY -- Mexican authorities detained an in-law of top drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman who allegedly ran a transnational drug operation that reached as far as Ecuador, federal police said Wednesday.

The suspect, Victor Manuel Felix, is both an in-law of Guzman, the head of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel, and the godfather of one of the drug lord's children. He is know by the nickname "El Senor," roughly "Mister" or "The Man."

Ramon Pequeno, the head of anti-drug operations for Mexico's federal police, said Felix ran a financial network for the Sinaloa cartel, Mexico's most powerful gang.

Pequeno said eight other people had been detained in Mexico along with Felix in raids in three Mexican states that began last week. He said the raids also netted about a half ton of cocaine.

Authorities in Ecuador said they conducted raids on a half dozen properties in that South American country, acting on information provided by Mexican authorities.

The raids in Ecuador resulted in the detention of nine suspects there - four Ecuadoreans, two Colombians and three Mexicans. More than 4.1 metric tons of cocaine also were seized, said Col. Rodrigo Suarez, the operations director of Ecuador's national police.

Suarez said the organization "was responsible for buying and storing cocaine and exporting it to Mexico."

Elsewhere in Mexico, the navy announced it had detained seven local police officers, most from the Monterrey suburb of San Nicolas de los Garza, on suspicion of working for drug cartels.

The navy statement did not say what evidence there was against the officers, but corruption is commonplace in local police forces in Mexico.

Also in Monterrey, a daylight shooting thought to involve rival drug gangs settling scores killed a teenage boy and two adult males and wounded two others, authorities said.

Gunmen killed the teenager and a man in the street and shot the other man to death at a nearby ice cream store, the Nuevo Leon state police said. The agency said investigators believed the gunmen sought out the teens because they belonged to a rival gang.

In the western state of Michoacan, state prosecutors reported that unidentified gunmen killed the police chief of the town of La Piedad as he headed home late Tuesday.

Jose Luis Guerrero had taken the La Piedad post Jan. 21. He was the third police chief killed so far this year in Michoacan, home to the violent La Familia drug cartel.

Shell casings found at the scene of Guerrero's killing were the type of ammunition favored by Mexico's drug cartels, authorities said.

(This version CORRECTS that 1 teenager, 2 men killed in Monterrey, intstead of 3 teenagers.)


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