Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Jefe de Jefes Falls

The Mexican Navy Confirms that the capo "el Jefe de jefes" was killed in a fire fight this afternoon with military of the Mexican Navy in a condo complex named, "Altitude." Four of his bodyguards were also killed.

Cuernavaca, Morelia - Arturo Beltran Leyva capo of the Beltran cartel and one of the reputed Beltran Leyva brothers operating in northern Mexico was killed yesterday in Cuernavaca in a clash with naval soldiers (equivalent to U.S. Marines).

The Mexican government had listed Arturo Beltran Leyva as one of its 24 most-wanted drug lords and had offered a $2.1 million reward for his capture.

He was one of 10 suspected cartel leaders named in a U.S. federal indictment in August on drug trafficking and conspiracy charges. In a press statement at the time Justice Department said Beltran Leyva was "among the most powerful drug traffickers in Mexico."

According to navy sources, the capo "El Jefe de Jefes" fell along with four of his bodyguards, after a firefight that originated inside the housing complex, "Altitudes."

According to early versions from the Secretary of the Navy, four gunmen were killed and one of the gang members killed himself as he was being arrested. His brother, known as Mario Alberto Leyva or Hector Leyva and also a top capo leader of the cartel was also killed.

During the gunbattle, sailors went door-to-door to evacuate residents of the apartment complex to the gym, according to a woman who said she was speaking by cellphone to her husband inside. She would not give her name out of fear for her safety.

Cartel gunmen hurled grenades that injured three sailors, the navy said. An Associated Press reporter at the scene heard at least 10 explosions. Three soldiers of the Navy were injured by a grenade attack and were being transported to Mexico City for medical care, but their injuries were not life threatening.

Arturo Beltrán Leyva, who called himself the "El Jefe de Jefes," or "boss of bosses," ran the cartel of the same name with his brothers and came to power during a split from the Sinaloa cartel. He is accused in the United States to have introduced some 120 tons of cocaine.

The Beltran Leyva cartel, one of the most violent and feared drug organizations in Mexico, is allied with the Gulf cartel in its battle against the Sinaloa organized crime syndicate. The Beltran Leyva group was formerly allied with the Sinaloa cartel (Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, Mexico's most wanted criminal), considered the largest drug-trafficking organization in the nation. The two other major drug organizations in Mexico are the Juarez and Tijuana cartels.

Beltran Levya broke ranks from the Sinaloa Cartel several years ago and aligned himself with Los Zetas, a group of former soldiers hired by the rival Gulf Cartel as hit men. The split is believed to have fueled much of the bloodshed of recent years.

U.S. officials say the Beltran Leyva Cartel has carried out heinous killings, including numerous beheadings. The gang also has had great success in buying off public officials, police and others to protect their business and get tips on planned military raids.

The state of Morelos, where Cuernavaca is located, and neighboring Guerrero have seen a spike in violence in recent months, with dozens of people killed. Some of the mutilated bodies have appeared with pieces of paper signed "boss of bosses," Beltran Leyva's nickname.

On Friday, sailors raided a party in the mountains of Tepotzlan, near Cuernavaca, where they killed three alleged Beltran Leyva Cartel members and detained 11. They also detained Ramon Ayala, a Texas-based norteno singer whose band was playing at the party. Ayala is being held on suspicion of ties to organized crime.

In 2008, one of the Beltran Leyva brothers was captured in a raid by security forces. The last time Mexican authorities killed a major drug lord was in 2002, when Ramon Arellano Felix of the Tijuana Cartel was shot by a police officer in the Sinaloa resort of Mazatlan.

The U.S government added Beltran Leyva and his cartel to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act last year, a movement that denied him access to the U.S. financial system.

Beltran Leyva's death is a victory for President Felipe Calderón, who launched a crusade against drugs shortly after taking office in 2006.

Despite that fact that President Calderon sent tens of thousands of soldiers and federal police to different states of Mexico, the war between the cartels has not slowed down since, about 16,000 people have been killed from the violence perpetrated by criminal organizations.

Marcos Arturo Beltrán-Leyva (September 27, 1961 - December 16, 2009) , was the leader of the Mexican drug trafficking organization known as the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel, which is headed by the Beltrán Leyva brothers: Marcos Arturo, Mario Alberto, Carlos, Alfredo and Héctor.

The cartel is responsible for cocaine transportation, marijuana production and wholesale, heroin production and wholesale, controls numerous drug trafficking corridors, human smuggling, money laundering, extortion, kidnapping, murder, contract killing and gun-running.

The Beltrán Leyva brothers, who were formerly aligned with the Sinaloa Cartel, are now allies of Los Zetas of the Gulf Cartel.

In 2004 and 2005, Marcos Arturo allegedly led powerful groups of assassins to fight for trade routes in northeastern Mexico. Through the use of corruption or intimidation he was able to infiltrate Mexico's political, judicial and police institutions to feed classified information about anti-drug operations, and even infiltrated the Interpol office in Mexico.

Alleged members of the Beltran Leyva's drug cartel (L-R) Gabriela Vega, Catalina Castro, and an unidentified man are presented to press at the headquarters of the Mexican Navy, in Mexico city on December 17, 2009. Arturo Beltran Leyva, a Mexican drug kingpin aka the "Boss of Bosses," has been killed in a dramatic shoot-out between cartel members and the military, at south of Mexico City, Navy said. Beltran Leyva was Mexico's third most wanted man, with a 1.5-million-dollar (one-million-euro) reward on offer for information leading to his capture.

It was two hundred Mexican Navy marines that stormed the upscale apartment complex and the gunbattle lasted for two hours. Witnesses said the raid began when marines rappelled down ropes onto the roofs of some of the apartment buildings at dusk.

Cartel gunmen hurled grenades that killed one marine and wounded two others, one of whom is in serious condition, the navy said. Two women and one man were detained during the raid, and five assault weapons were seized.

Reporters were briefly allowed inside the apartment where Beltran Leyva's body still lay early Thursday; his skull and one arm were mangled by bullet wounds, and in one hand he clutched a large gold-colored medallion.

"First they were asked to surrender, but they didn't yield and they opened fire," said one of the ski-masked marines who participated in the raid, and who was not authorized to give his name.

President Felipe Calderon, speaking from the Copenhagen climate summit, said "this action represents an important achievement for the government and people of Mexico, and a resounding blow against one of the most dangerous criminal organizations in Mexico, and on the continent."

Beltran Leyva is the highest-ranking figure taken down under Calderon, who has deployed more than 45,000 troops across Mexico to crush the cartels since taking office in December 2006. Mexico's navy often has been used in the battle as well. The offensive has earned Calderon praise from Washington even as 14,000 people have been killed in a wave of drug-related violence.

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