One of the top leaders of Mexico’s La Barredora drug cartel, a gang that was formed recently and has been blamed for a wave of murders in the Pacific resort city of Acapulco, has been captured, a high-level police official said Tuesday.
Christian Arturo Hernandez Tarin, suspected of being one of La Barredora’s founders, and three associates were arrested in Mexico state, which surrounds the Federal District and forms part of the Mexico City metropolitan area, Federal Police drug enforcement unit chief Ramon Eduardo Pequeño said.
Hernandez Tarin “had under his command at least 100 people, who performed security, homicide, lookout and drug distribution functions in the port city of Acapulco,” Pequeño said.
La Barredora, which was led by Hernandez Tarin and Eder Jair Sosa Carvajal, has been fighting the Cartel Independiente de Acapulco for control of the illegal drug trade in Acapulco, a popular tourist destination in the southern state of Guerrero.
The two gangs were formed after the break-up of the organization led by Edgar Valdez Villarreal, who was known as “La Barbie” and was arrested by the Federal Police on Aug. 30, 2010.
The 30-year-old Hernandez Tarin was arrested by security forces members taking part in “Operation Safe Guerrero,” which was launched on Oct. 6 in an effort to reduce the soaring crime rate in the state.
Drug-related murders surged 100 percent in Guerrero in the January-September 2011 period, compared to the same period last year, the federal government said.
Acapulco, a favorite among Mexican and foreign tourists for decades, has lost business to other destinations amid a 357 percent jump in murders during the first nine months of this year, making the port city Mexico’s second most violent city after Ciudad Juarez.
The war between La Barredora and the Cartel Independiente de Acapulco is behind the rising body count in the Pacific port city, officials said.
Hernandez Tarin is the son of Arturo Hernandez Gonzalez, a close associate of Juarez cartel bosses Amado and Vicente Carrillo Fuentes who is now doing time in a maximum-security prison, the Federal Police said.
The La Barredora leader began his criminal career with the Juarez cartel in 2003, smuggling marijuana from Ciudad Juarez into the United States, intelligence reports say.
Hernandez Tarin later worked as a hitman in the city of Cuernavaca for Arturo Beltran Leyva, a drug lord who died in a shootout with the army in 2009, and then joined the gang led by Valdez Villarreal.
The leaders of La Barredora and the Cartel Independiente de Acapulco “have moved to the central part of the country” for security reasons, Pequeño said.
Jose Carlos Espinoza Moreno, 27, Jorge Humberto Silva Gonzalez, 30, and Jose David Sanchez Delgado, 64, were arrested along with Hernandez Tarin.
The Federal Police seized an armored Porsche SUV, four AK-47 assault rifles, six ammunition clips, a handgun and communications gear from the suspects.