Mexico captures high-level Sinaloa cartel member

MEXICO CITY (AP) Vicente Zambada allegedly served as head of operations and security for the Sinaloa cartel until his arrest Wednesday at a home in the elite Mexico City neighborhood. His father, Ismael Zambada, is considered one of the leaders of the cartel and one of Mexico's most-wanted suspects.

The arrest was the latest in a series of enforcement actions against the Sinaloa gang. U.S. officials last month announced they had rounded up 755 Sinaloa cartel suspects north of the border, in cities and towns as small as Stow, Iowa. In Mexico, the gang has been accused of paying off top security officials, including Mexico's former drug czar, Noe Ramirez, who is accused of accepting $450,000.

In a news conference, the Mexican attorney general's office said anonymous tips about suspicious activity led to Zambada's arrest, along with five body guards, in the capital's exclusive Lomas del Pedregal neighborhood.

Ismael Zambada's brother, Jesus "The King" Zambada, was arrested last year in Mexico City and accused of helping smuggle cocaine and methamphetamines through the Mexico City airport.

Mexico's drug cartels are increasingly on the defensive as the U.S. and Mexico launch a cross-border crackdown.

After taking office on Dec. 1, 2006, President Felipe Calderon immediately sent thousands of soldiers and federal police to drug strongholds across Mexico in an attempt to bring warring gangs under control.

Cartels, already fighting each other for territory and drug routes into the U.S., responded with unprecedented violence, killing some 8,000 people. About 10 percent of those victims are police or soldiers. The rest are believed to be linked to the drug trade, and only a fraction have been civilians caught in the crossfire.

In recent weeks, Mexico deployed thousands of soldiers to clamp down on violence in Mexico's bloodiest city, Ciudad Juarez, across the U.S. border from El Paso, Texas.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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