Morelia, Michoacan – An important member of the La Familia Michoacana drug organization was arrested along with two associates, the Mexican Public Safety Secretariat said Monday.
Jose Manuel Cuevas Arias has been linked to the killings of at least four Federal Police officers during an attempt to help La Familia capo Arnoldo Rueda Medina escape from a jail in Morelia, the capital of Michoacan state.
The 31-year-old Cuevas served as a “lookout” for La Familia Michoacana and was responsible for warning the cartel about army and police operations in the state.
La Familia Michoacana, which operates in Michoacan, the southern state of Guerrero and the central state of Mexico, which surrounds the Federal District and forms part of the Mexico City metropolitan area, is considered the largest trafficker of synthetic drugs in Mexico.
“He carried out, moreover, transfer and warehousing activities for arms, drugs and stolen vehicles,” the secretariat said.
Cuevas, wanted by the Federal Police since 2009, was arrested twice in the United States.
He was convicted in California in 2000 of producing methamphetamine and was later charged with entering the country illegally.
Rafael Rosales Cuevas and Luis Alberto Farias Ruiz, employed as gunmen by La Familia Michoacana in Guanajuato and Michoacan, were arrested along with Cuevas.
The cartel has been withdrawing from other states, such as Tamaulipas, where it has been battling the Zetas cartel.
Tamaulipas has become a battleground for drug traffickers vying for control of smuggling routes into the United States.
The violence has intensified in Tamaulipas since the appearance in February in Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo Leon state, of giant banners heralding an alliance of the Gulf, Sinaloa and La Familia drug cartels against Los Zetas, a band of Mexican special forces deserters turned hired guns.
After several years as the armed wing of the Gulf cartel, Los Zetas went into the drug business on their own account and now control several lucrative territories.
The cartels arrayed against Los Zetas blame the group’s involvement in kidnapping, armed robbery and extortion for discrediting “true drug traffickers” in the eyes of ordinary Mexicans inclined to tolerate the illicit trade as long as the gangs stuck to their own unwritten rule against harming innocents.