Mexico City – The Sinaloa drug cartel's top boss in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua was captured by army troops, officials said Wednesday.
Noel Salgueiro Nevarez, a close associate of top cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" (Shorty) Guzman, was arrested Tuesday in Culiacan, the capital of the northwestern state of Sinaloa.
The suspect was arrested "without any shots being fired," the Defense Secretariat and the Attorney General's Office said.
Salgueiro Nevarez's arrest "affects the leadership structure, as well as the operational capabilities," of the Sinaloa cartel in Chihuahua, the federal agencies said.
The suspect's capture may also "affect the national and international operations" of the Sinaloa cartel, which is sometimes referred to by Mexican officials as the Pacific cartel, the agencies said.
Salgueiro Nevarez is suspected of being the founder and leader of Gente Nueva, a gang that works for Guzman, who was arrested in Guatemala in 1993 and pulled off a Hollywood-style jailbreak when he escaped from the Puente Grande maximum-security prison in the western state of Jalisco on Jan. 19, 2001.
He is also "suspected of being involved in kidnappings, extortion, torture and the murders of a large number of people in the state of Chihuahua," including officials and business leaders, the federal agencies said.
The AG's office offered a reward of up to 3 million pesos (about $220,000) in October 2010 for information leading to the arrest of Salgueiro Nevarez.
The Sinaloa and Juarez cartels have been fighting for several years for control of Chihuahua, especially Ciudad Juarez, a key stronghold for smuggling drugs into the United States.
Gente Nueva has operated as the armed wing of the Sinaloa organization, employing hitmen from the Los Artistas Asesinos and Los Mexicles gangs, while the Juarez cartel uses La Linea, a group linked to the Los Aztecas gang, as its enforcers.
The various gangs are also involved in drug dealing on the streets of Juarez and other cities.
The gangs recruit teenagers as hitmen, accounting for the high number of young men killed in shootouts with rival gangs and the security forces.