MEXICO CITY – Mexican police have captured alleged drug lord Carlos Beltran Leyva, just two weeks after his even more powerful brother was killed in a shootout with troops – back-to-back victories in President Felipe Calderon’s drug war.
The Public Safety Department said in a statement Saturday night that Carlos Beltran Leyva was arrested in Culiacan, the capital of the Pacific coast state of Sinaloa, where he and several of his brothers were born and allegedly started their gang.
Two weeks ago, his brother Arturo, reputed chief of the Beltran Leyva cartel, was killed in a shootout with Mexican marines in the central city of Cuernavaca. He was the highest-ranking cartel suspect taken down since Calderon sent tens of thousands of soldiers and federal police across the country three years ago to fight brutal drug gangs.
Mexican officials in the past have described Carlos Beltran Levya, 40, as a key member of the gang, but it was unclear if he took over as chief of the cartel after his brother died.
A third brother, Alfredo, was arrested in January 2008. At least one other brother, Mario, remains at large and is listed as one of Mexico’s 24 most-wanted drug lords.
Officials from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration have said one of the brothers would likely fill the void.
The arrest of Carlos Beltran Leyva sent a strong signal that Calderon’s government has no intention of backing down in its campaign to destroy the cartel despite a chilling reprisal attack for Arturo Beltran Leyva’ death. Days after he was killed, gunmen massacred the mother and three other relatives of a marine who died in the Dec. 16 shootout.
Calderon vowed he would not be intimidated. However, authorities were far quieter in announcing Carlos Beltran Leyva’s capture, waiting three days to make the arrest public.