Mexico City – One of the founders of Mexico's La Familia Michoacana drug cartel has been arrested, the Federal Police said.
Martin Rosales Magaña and three other cartel members were arrested Tuesday in Juntas, a community in Mexico state, which surrounds the Federal District and forms part of the Mexico City metropolitan area, Federal Police drug enforcement unit chief Ramon Eduardo Pequeño said.
The arrest in June of Jesus Mendez, La Familia's top boss, was the key to capturing Rosales Magaña, Pequeño said.
Rosales Magaña, who sported a black eye, and the other suspects were paraded before reporters on Wednesday in Mexico City.
Mexican authorities also exchanged information about the 47-year-old drug trafficker with their counterparts in the United States.
Rosales Magaña is accused of being in charge of La Familia's cells in the eastern section of Michoacan, which borders Mexico state.
La Familia Michoacana has been badly weakened by the arrests and killings of several of its top leaders, and the creation of Los Caballeros Templarios.
The cartel began unraveling after top boss Nazario Moreno's death in a shootout with the Federal Police in December 2010, officials and analysts say.
Servando Gomez Martinez shares the leadership of Los Caballeros Templarios with Enrique Plancarte.
The La Familia faction led by Mendez has been fighting the group led by Gomez and Plancarte, who formed Los Caballeros Templarios in March.
Rosales Magaña served a year in prison in California for selling heroin in 1995 and was later deported to Mexico, where he went to work for Mendez in 2000.
The suspect held several posts in the cartel, recruiting new members and training them to use firearms and smuggle drugs.
Rosales Magaña sold up to two tons of marijuana a month and provided security for the cartel's synthetic drug labs, officials said.
He also served as La Familia's top boss in the southern state of Guerrero and ran its operations in Apatzingan, a city in Michoacan.
The suspect later ran the cartel's business in Mexico state, where he battled rival gangs, mainly Los Zetas, former allies with whom La Familia broke in 2008.
Rosales Magaña "always served as the No. 2 in the criminal structure of 'El Chango Mendez,'" Pequeño said.
He attempted to cut a deal with Los Zetas to fight Los Caballeros Templarios and tried to restructure La Familia, Pequeño said.
Rosales Magaña planned to return "to Apatzingan with a group of 200 La Familia and Los Zetas members to regain control of the area," Pequeño said.
Jose Chavez Moreno, a 36-year-old suspected murderer who served as Rosales Magaña's bodyguard; Jaime Ulises Fernandez Alarcon, 30, another suspected bodyguard; and Santiago Geovany Equihua Peñaloza, 37, were also arrested in the operation.
The Federal Police seized four rifles, a handgun, cell phones, documents and drugs from the suspects, who were turned over to federal prosecutors.