A key drug cartel figure who acknowledged ordering 1,500 killings and who is also a suspect in last year's slaying of a U.S. consulate employee near a border crossing in Ciudad Juárez has been captured in northern Mexico, federal officials said Sunday.

Mexican President Felipe Calderón said through his Twitter account that José Antonio Acosta Hernández's capture is "the biggest blow" to organized crime in Ciudad Juárez since he sent about 5,000 federal police to the city in April 2010 to try to curb violence in one of the world's most dangerous cities.

Acosta, 33, was caught Friday in the northern city of Chihuahua, said Ramon Pequeño, head of the federal police anti-drug unit. But the arrest was not confirmed until Sunday, just before officials displayed him to the news media in Mexico City.

Acosta, nicknamed "El Diego," told federal police he ordered 1,500 killings, Pequeño said at the press conference. Investigators believe he was the mastermind of an attack last year that killed a U.S. consulate employee, her husband and the husband of another consulate worker in Ciudad Juárez, he said.

U.S. prosecutors also want to try him in that case. A federal indictment filed in the western district of Texas says Acosta and nine others conspired to kill the three.

Pequeño said he expects an extradition request from the U.S. government.

Mexican authorities have identified Acosta as head of La Linea, a gang of hit men and corrupt police officers who act as enforcers for the Juárez Cartel. Pequeño said Acosta acknowledged he ordered notorious crimes such as the detonation of a July 2010 car bomb and a massacre that killed 15 people, mostly teenagers, at a birthday party, both in Ciudad Juárez.

The Juárez Cartel, allegedly led by Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, has been losing ground to the Sinaloa drug trafficking organization, headed by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman in a three-year battle over the border city's smuggling corridors. But Carrillo Fuentes and alleged top lieutenant Juan Pablo Ledezma remain at large.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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