MEXICO CITY – A man reputed to be one of the most important heroin distributors in the United States was arrested on May 30 in the northwestern state of Sinaloa, Mexican officials said Thursday.
Carlos Ramon Castro Rocha was arrested during “Operation Deliverance,” which is being conducted by Mexico and the United States, federal prosecutor Marisela Morales and the chief of the Federal Police’s drug enforcement unit, Ramon Pequeño Garcia, told reporters.
Castro Rocha faces criminal conspiracy and drug charges for his involvement in importing and distributing both cocaine and heroin.
The drug trafficker has been under investigation since 2002 for his role in the mass production of heroin in Mexico.
Investigators have been aware since 2006 of the control that Castro Rocha had over drug distribution in 10 U.S. cities, including Los Angeles and San Diego.
A nearly six-month investigation led authorities to Guasave, a city in Sinaloa where Castro Rocha had his operations center, and then to Sinaloa de Leiva, where the drug trafficker was arrested.
The sharing of intelligence between the United States and Mexico allowed investigators to trace the flow of drugs and money, leading to the arrest of Jose Antonio Medina Arreguin, known as the “King of Heroin,” on March 24 in Michoacan state, Morales and Pequeño said.
A high-level member of the violent Los Zetas drug cartel was captured by army troops in Monterrey, the capital of the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, officials said.
Hector Luna Luna was considered by military intelligence to be one of the most powerful drug traffickers in northeastern Mexico and was protected by police officers on the cartel’s payroll.
Luna’s capture was followed by several shootouts between gunmen and the security forces, attacks on police stations and roadblocks on streets and highways, officials said.
The drug trafficker was arrested in an operation Wednesday afternoon in Solidaridad, a neighborhood in the western section of Monterrey.
A second person was also arrested in the operation, military spokesmen said.
A large group of gunmen launched attacks across the city in an effort to prevent Luna’s transfer out of the area.
Gunmen opened fire on state police stations, attacked the police headquarters in the city of Garcia with grenades and engaged the security forces in shootouts in several parts of the industrial city.
Armed men stole trucks, heavy equipment and automobiles, using the vehicles to block about 20 of the main thoroughfares in the city, as well as highways leading to the border with the United States, the police chiefs of Monterrey and Guadalupe said.
The magnitude of the roadblocks matched the magnitude of the arrest made by the army, Nuevo Leon state secretary-general Jorge Treviño said.
Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano deserted from the Mexican army in 1999 and formed Los Zetas with three other soldiers, all members of an elite special operations unit, becoming the armed wing of the Gulf drug cartel.
The Zetas broke with the Gulf cartel several months ago and the two criminal organizations are at war.
The armed group is now in the drug business on its own and controls several lucrative territories.
In February, giant banners heralding an alliance of the Gulf, Sinaloa and La Familia drug cartels against Los Zetas appeared in the northern city of Monterrey.
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.
The gang war has especially affected Nuevo Leon and neighboring Tamaulipas state.
Friday June 11,2010
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