In this photo released by Mexico's Navy, Navy marines arrest alleged drug kingpin Sergio Villarreal Barragan, alias 'El Grande,' center, in Puebla, Mexico, Sunday Sept. 12, 2010. Mexican marines captured Villarreal, a presumed leader of the embattled Beltran Leyva cartel who appears on a list of the country's most-wanted fugitives, in a raid Sunday, the government said
Mexican marines captured Sergio Villarreal Barragan in the city of Puebla, east of Mexico City, a presumed leader of the embattled Beltran Leyva cartel who appears on a list of the country's most-wanted fugitives, in a raid.
The navy said Mr Villarreal was arrested "without a shot being fired" following an intelligence operation. The alleged capo known as "El Grande" did not put up any resistance when he was arrested along with two accomplices, said a navy official who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with department policy. Authorities also recovered weapons and armed vehicles in the operation.
Navy marines inspect a car at a roadblock outside the entrance to the residential compound where the alleged drug kingpin Sergio Villareal Barragan, alias 'El Grande,' was arrested in Puebla, Mexico.
The President's Office (Alejandro Poire, a spokesman for Mexico's president on security issues) later issued a brief statement confirming the arrest took place in Puebla, capital of the state of the same name.
"This afternoon, the federal government ... dealt another blow to the criminal organizations that threaten Mexicans' security," Poire said.
His capture will provide a boost for President Felipe Calderon, who has faced growing criticism in recent months from opponents who think his military-led campaign against the cartels is not working.
A Mexican marine stands guard on a street on the outskirts of Puebla.
Villarreal's capture is the fourth major blow delivered to drug cartels by Mexico's government in the past year. First came the death of Arturo Beltran Leyva on Deember 16, 2009.
Then soldiers killed the Sinaloa cartel's No. 3 capo, Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel, on July 29. And on August 30 federal police announced the capture Edgar Valdez Villarreal, alias "La Barbie." The two men are not related.
Villarreal, "El Grande," appears on a 2009 Attorney General's Office list of Mexico's most-wanted drug traffickers, with a reward of just over $2 million offered for his capture. Villarreal is accused by Mexican authorities of trafficking and carrying out murders for several of the country's brutal drug cartels, which have killed tens of thousands of people in bloody battles with each other and confrontations with Mexican authorities.
He is listed as one of the remaining leaders of the Beltran Leyva cartel, whose top capo, Arturo Beltran Leyva, was killed in a raid by marines outside Mexico City.
Villarreal's capture comes about two weeks after the arrest of Valdez Villarreal, another alleged capo linked to the Beltran Leyvas.
A former policeman, Mr Villarreal is alleged to have worked for a number of criminal organizations before joining the drug cartel led by Arturo Beltran Leyva.
Sergio Villarreal is thought to have remained loyal to Mr Beltran Leyva's brother, Hector, while Edgar Valdez, who was arrested on 30 August, led a rival faction
The once-powerful Beltran Leyva cartel split following the death of Arturo - known as the "Boss of Bosses" - which launched a brutal war for control of the gang, involving mass executions and beheadings in once-peaceful parts of central Mexico. The fight pitted brother Hector Beltran Leyva and Villarreal against a faction led by "La Barbie." Hector Beltran Leyva remains at large.
The Beltran Leyva brothers once formed a part of the Sinaloa cartel, but broke away following a dispute. An indication of the problems facing the cartel is that three of the four main blows dealt to drug gangs in the past year involve Beltran Leyva leaders or operatives.
More than 28,000 people have been killed in Mexico since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderon launched a military offensive against the cartels soon after taking office.
In the central state of Morelos, police discovered nine bodies in clandestine graves Saturday in the same area where four more were recently found. The Public Safety Department said in a statement that all 13 victims were believed to have been killed on the orders of "La Barbie" in his battle for control of the cartel.
Sources: Associated Press, BBC, CNN