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Mexican police nab leader of Beltran Leyva cartel
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Mexican police nab leader of Beltran Leyva cartel

22 arrested, 2 killed in Sonoyta raid

  • Alleged Belran Layva cartel head Hernandez Garcia
    Alleged Belran Layva cartel head Hernandez Garcia

Mexican police arrested Francisco Javier Hernandez Garcia, the alleged leader of the Beltran Leyva cartel, over the weekend, authorities announced Monday. On Saturday, Mexican federal police also conducted raids in Sonoyta, just across the border from Lukeville, Arizona, in which 22 were arrested and two killed.

Francisco Javier Hernandez Garcia, also known as "2000," was arrested Saturday in Gusave, Sinaloa, said National Security Commissioner Renato Sales. 

Gusave is about 500 miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border, along the west coast of Mexico and is close to Los Mochis, where the head of the Sinaloa cartel, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, was arrested earlier in the year. 

Sales said that Hernandez Garcia, 47, began his career in the 90's as an "escort" for the five Beltran brothers who founded the gang. 

In 2005, he was put in charge of coordinating the shipment of drugs in Sonora, and helped establish partnerships with other regional groups, including the Zeta cartel, to fight the Sinaloa and Gulf cartels over drug and human smuggling routes. 

In 2014, Hernandez Garcia took over the cartel after the last of the five brothers, Hector Beltran Leyva, was arrested by Mexican officials in 2014. 

Sales said that Hernandez Garcia was one of 122 men on the country's most-wanted list. In the last two years, Mexican officials have arrested 99 of those suspects.

Over the past fours weeks, Mexican authorities have conducted a series of raids aimed at cartel leaders and their lieutenants. 

On Jan. 8, Mexican authorities announced they had recaptured Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the head of the powerful Sinaloa cartel who escaped from prison last July, in an early morning raid in Los Mochis. 

Meanwhile, on Saturday, a joint-operation between U.S. officials and Mexican federal police resulted in the arrests of 22 men in the border city Sonoyta, just across the line from Lukeville, Arizona. 

On Friday morning, Blackhawk helicopters flown by Mexican federal police crossed over the border from Lukeville, Arizona as part of a multi-agency effort aimed at "high-level" members of the Sinaloa cartel operating in and around Sonoyta and the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Dubbed Operation Diablo Express, the raids targeted "high-level members" of the Sinaloa cartel operating in and around Sonoyta and the U.S. border, said ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen. 

Conducted with the aim of protecting Mexican law enforcement, the sensitive operation was kept secret and U.S. officials brought Mexican authorities into Arizona to allow them to "more safely execute their law enforcement operation in Mexico," said Christensen. 

On Saturday, Christensen announced that 24 men were arrested, however, on Monday Mexican federal police said that two men were shot and killed after they fired on Mexican law enforcement as they approached a home near Plutarco Elias Calles, a town in the desert near Sonoyta. 

Mexican federal police said the armed men were guarding a stash house for drugs, and where the Sinaloa cartel kept people wanting to cross the U.S. border in "captivity." 

Mexican federal police said they seized 15 assault rifles and three pistols, assorted ammunition, and 500 pounds of marijuana. 

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