A leader of the Pacifico Sur drug cartel and a municipal police chief were arrested by army soldiers in the central Mexican state of Morelos on organized crime charges, authorities told Efe.

Sources with the federal Attorney General's Office in that state told Efe that the drug-gang suspect has been identified as Victor Manuel Valdes Arteaga and is the second-in-command of the Morelos-based cartel.

The suspect was arrested Thursday morning along with a woman who was accompanying him.

Hours later, the chief of police of the central city of Cuernavaca, Juan Bosco, was arrested at the municipal police headquarters after Valdes apparently told investigators he had provided protection to the cartel in exchange for money.

The police chief's alleged role was to alert the gang to police operations being planned in Cuernavaca, Morelos' capital, which has seen an uptick in drug-related violence in recent months.

Both suspects are to be turned over to the AG's office's Siedo organized-crime division.

The woman arrested along with Valdes, a former municipal police officer, is apparently the mother of a 15-year-old boy who was detained on Jan. 27 on drug-trafficking charges.

The Pacifico Sur cartel is a cell of the criminal organization headed by Hector Beltran Leyva.

Another top leader of the Pacifico Sur cartel, Jesus Radilla Hernandez, is suspected of ordering the killing earlier this year of Juan Francisco Sicilia, son of poet Javier Sicilia, and six other men.

Sicilia responded to his son's death by launching a movement aimed at sharply reducing the violence resulting from turf wars among rival drug cartels and a government offensive against the gangs.

Army soldiers and other federal forces have killed or arrested several high-ranking cartel leaders since President Felipe Calderon gave them the lead role in combating the drug mobs after taking office in late 2006.

But Calderon's critics contend that his strategy has only triggered an increasingly violent response from drug traffickers, who are known for brutal tactics such as hanging their decapitated rivals from bridges in urban areas.

Federal forces also have been accused of rights violations, but the government says it is essential that they play the lead role in combating the cartels due to widespread corruption among law enforcement at the local and state level.

A total of 15,270 people died in drug-related violence in Mexico in 2010, the deadliest in Calderon's four-and-a-half-year war on the cartels.