Drug cartel leader who admits 1,500 killings is held

A key Mexican drug cartel figure who acknowledged ordering 1,500 killings has been captured in the north of the country.

Jose Antonio Acosta Hernandez is a suspect in the murder last year of a US Consulate worker near a border crossing in the northern town of Ciudad Juarez.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon tweeted that Acosta's capture was "the biggest blow" to organised crime in Ciudad Juarez since he sent 5,000 federal police to the city in April last year to try to curb violence in one of the world's most dangerous cities.

The arrest of Acosta, 33, came on Friday in the state capital of Chihuahua, according to the anti-drug unit, but was not confirmed until yesterday, just before he was displayed to the news media in Mexico City.

Acosta, nicknamed "El Diego", allegedly told police he ordered 1,500 killings. Investigators believe he was the mastermind of an attack last year that killed a US consulate employee, her husband and the husband of another consulate worker in Ciudad Juarez.

A US federal indictment filed in Texas says Acosta and nine others conspired to kill the three. Mexico expect san extradition request from the US government.

Mexican authorities have identified Acosta as head of La Linea, a gang of hitmen and corrupt police officers who act as enforcers for the Juarez Cartel. Ramon Pequeno, head of the anti-drug unit, said Acosta acknowledged that he ordered crimes including the detonation of a car bomb and a massacre that killed 15 people, mostly teenagers, at a birthday party

The Juarez Cartel has been losing ground to the Sinaloa drug trafficking organisation in a three-year battle over the border city's smuggling corridors. Its reputed leader, Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, and alleged top lieutenant Juan Pablo Ledezma remain at large.

AP

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