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Mexico believes it captured drug cartel leader
Tue Jul 5, 2005
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico believes it may have captured Vicente Carrillo, boss of the powerful Juarez drug cartel, in what would be a major victory in a war on drug gangs responsible for an explosion of violence on the U.S. border.
But Mexico's main television network said Monday that DNA tests had showed the captured man was not Carrillo, one of Mexico's biggest drug barons and listed as one of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's top 10 major international fugitives.
The suspect was arrested in a Mexico City shopping center on Saturday.
Prosecutors were carrying out DNA tests and fingerprint checks to confirm his identity because of the extensive plastic surgery Carrillo has reportedly used to change his face.
"We presume this is Vicente Carrillo, but it is not completely confirmed," government spokesman Ruben Aguilar said. "I can only confirm the (arrest), and during the day the attorney general's office will give details on the subject."
But a statement promised by the attorney general's office did not appear and the Televisa network said the man arrested was in fact an architect, Joaquin Romero Aparicio.
"They have finished the DNA tests and they are not compatible at all with this drug trafficker," Televisa said on its main night news show, without giving a source for its information.
The attorney general's office said a suspect who was possibly Carrillo had been arrested after a tip from a witness who was being protected, but said it could be several days before DNA tests confirm his identity.
"A person has been arrested and is being investigated, possibly Vicente Carrillo, but we still don't have information that allows us to determine if he is or not," a spokesman at the attorney general's office said.
"They are carrying out checks but they don't have the data yet. Waiting for the DNA results would mean a minimum of three days and then any extra time," he said.
Carrillo, who runs the Juarez cartel along with sidekick Juan Jose Esparragoza, is the brother of cartel founder Amado Carrillo, whose own attempts to change his appearance with plastic surgery led to his death on the operating table in 1997.
The U.S. DEA's Web site describes Carrillo, a former police officer, as "armed and dangerous."
Based in the grim border city of Ciudad Juarez, notorious for a spate of brutal murders of women, the Juarez cartel is a confederation of clan-like crime families who smuggle Colombian cocaine and locally grown marijuana to the United States.
In its heyday in the 1990s, the cartel used a stripped Boeing 727 passenger jet to haul tons of cocaine north, earning Amado Carrillo the gangland tag of "El Senor de los Cielos" or "Lord of the Skies."
More than 500 people have been killed so far this year in drug-related violence which has escalated since President Vicente Fox launched a "mother of all battles" on drug gangs at the start of the year.
Last month, troops arrested a brother of Joaquin Guzman, Mexico's most wanted man and leader of the Sinaloa cartel.
The government says it has made hundreds of other arrests this year in the northern states of Tamaulipas, Sinaloa and Baja California.
Aguilar also said on Monday that U.S. police had arrested Martin Rojas, suspected mastermind of the April murder of Raul Gibb, owner and editor of a newspaper in the state of Veracruz that published articles about an illicit fuel smuggling racket allegedly run by Rojas.