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Mexico Captures Suspected Sinaloa Cartel Leader

14 May 2011

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Martin Beltran Coronel, one of the drug lords of the Pacifico cartel, is presented to the media

Mexican soldiers have captured Martin Beltran Coronel, alias "El Aguila" or "The Eagle," a suspected leader of the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel, the Defence Ministry said Friday.

Soldiers detained Beltran Coronel on Thursday in a smart neighbourhood of Zapopan, Jalisco, in western Mexico, the same area where his uncle, Nacho Coronel, one of the gang's main leaders, was killed last July, reports AFP.

The head of the gang, billionaire fugitive Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, had named Beltran Coronel to take over from his uncle, General Edgar Luis Villegas told a news conference.

He controlled cocaine trafficking from Central and South America to the United States and worked in the western Pacific states of Jalisco and Colima, the general added.

Beltran Coronel was caught with three security guards, including two women, and a suspected deputy, while firearms, vehicles, jewellery and more than $400,000 were also seized.

Nacho Coronel had been on Mexico's most wanted list, along with the gang's top leaders Ismael "Mayo" Zambada and Juan Jose Esparragoza, or "El Azul," as well as "El Chapo," with rewards of up to $2 million offered to help capture them.

Nacho Coronel's death was the biggest blow so far to one of Mexico's main crime syndicates, also known as the Pacific Cartel, under a military crackdown launched by the government of President Felipe Calderon in December 2006.

Some 37,000 people have died in spiralling drug violence since then, according to media counts, and authorities blame much of it on fighting between the Sinaloa gang and the Zetas gang, which was started by former elite soldiers.

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