First 'La Barbie', now Mexican forces capture 'El Grande'

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The Independent US

Mexican marines have captured Sergio Villarreal Barragan, an alleged leader of the embattled Beltran Leyva cartel and one of the country's most-wanted fugitives, in a raid in the central state of Puebla.

The alleged capo, known as "El Grande", did not put up any resistance when he was arrested along with two accomplices as they left a residence in Puebla city on Sunday, according to a government security spokesman, Alejandro Poire. The raid involved 30 navy marines, five vehicles and a helicopter.

"This is a new and resounding blow by the federal government against crime, given the high rank and dangerousness of this person inside one of the country's most extensive criminal organisations, which has now been deeply weakened," Mr Poire said in a statement.

Villarreal's capture is the fourth major blow delivered to drug cartels by the government of President Felipe Calderon in the past year.

First came the death of Arturo Beltran Leyva, the top leader of the Beltran Leyva cartel, in a raid outside Mexico City in December last year. Then soldiers killed the Sinaloa cartel's third in charge capo, Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel, in July earlier this year. In August, federal police announced the capture of Edgar Valdez, known as "La Barbie".

Villarreal appears on the list of Mexico's most-wanted drug traffickers issued by the attorney general's office, with a reward of just over $2m offered for his capture. He faces at least seven investigations for alleged drug trafficking and organised crime, Mr Poire said.

He is listed as one of the top remaining leaders of the Beltran Leyva cartel following the death of Arturo, who was known as the "Boss of Bosses", and the arrest of "La Barbie", a former Beltran Leyva hitman and operative.