Cesar Villagrán Salazar, "El Placas",
In a statement issued Tuesday, the Ministry of National Defense (Sedena) announced that Cesar Villagrán Salazar, "El Placas", was arrested by army troops on the 12th of this month in the town of Magdalena de Kino, Sonora.
According to a warrant issued by the federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) Villagrán Salazar was wanted on charges of organized crime and possession of firearms limited for the exclusive use of the military. The suspect has been arraigned and will be held for 40 days while an investigation gathers evidence for use by prosecutors.
El Placas is alleged to be a key operator for Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in northern Sonora, bordering the state of Arizona.
He is reported to command the plazas of Magdalena del Kino and Santa Ana where he coordinated the shipment of drugs by air from Sinaloa and their distribution from northern Sonora across the border into Arizona.
Villagrán Salazar acquired control of the Magdalena de Kino operation after the arrest of his cousin Jose Vazquez Villagrán, “El Jabali”, in February 2010.
Mexican authorities have reported a resurgence in the use of aircraft by drug cartels for the transshipment of drugs within Mexico and through Central and South America due to the increasing difficulty of ground smuggling operations.
In another blow to Sinaloa cartel operations in northern Sonora, a Mexican Army operation at San Luis Rio Colorado resulted in the seizure of 12 tons of marijuana this past Wednesday, February 16.
During the raid the soldiers also detained 3 alleged members of a criminal cell under the command of Alejandro Inzunza, “El Machoprieto”, an important operator for Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada. Three vehicles and three assault rifles were also seized.
El Machoprieto reportedly controls the plazas of Mexicali in Baja California Norte and San Luis Rio Coronado in Sonora for the Sinaloa cartel.
According to media reports the three detainees who were safeguarding the 12 ton shipment stated that El Machoprieto’s operations in Mexicali, where drugs are warehoused before moving into the U.S., are protected by officers belonging to the Federal Investigative Police (AFI).
In a Sedena press release dated 2/16/2011 the Mexican Army announced the seizure in the San Luis Rio Coronado area on Monday February 14, of 282.8 kilos of cocaine, 147.3 kilos of crystal methamphetamine, and 21.5 kilos of heroin.
The drugs were found hidden in a tractor-trailer carrying a shipment of food products during a routine inspection at a permanent checkpoint on federal highway #2. The rig had been loaded in Culician Sinaloa and was headed to Mexicali, Baja California.
The driver of the rig and a companion were both taken into custody.
According to Sedena’s calculations the drugs had a total street value of $825,750,426 pesos or $68.7 million dollars.