Mexican security forces captured a high-ranking member of the Los Zetas drug cartel near the border between the northern states of Nuevo Leon and Coahuila, officials said.

Jesus Sarabia Ramon was arrested Wednesday by personnel from a mixed operations base comprising soldiers and members of the "reaction force" of the Nuevo Leon city of Garcia, part of the Monterrey metropolitan area, the Defense Secretariat said.

In a brief statement Thursday, the secretariat said the suspect is one of the main individuals responsible for the Zetas' criminal activities in several Mexican states.

It added that Sarabia was arrested within the scope of "Operation Northeast," which the army is carrying out in Nuevo Leon and the neighboring states of Tamaulipas, Coahuila and San Luis Potosi to weaken the drug cartels that operate in the region.

More information will be provided shortly on the suspect, who was transferred to Mexico City, the secretariat said.

Local media described Sarabia as the Zetas' No. 4 and said he was allegedly involved in planning the murder of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata on Feb. 15, 2011.

Zapata and fellow ICE agent Victor Avila, who was wounded in the same attack, were targeted by Zetas gunmen while driving from Mexico City to Monterrey.

Founded by deserters from an elite special forces unit, Los Zetas began as the armed wing of the Gulf drug cartel, but ended that relationship in March 2010 to go into business for themselves.

Regarded as Mexico's most ruthless cartel, Los Zetas was behind last August's daytime arson attack on a Monterrey casino that left 52 employees and gamblers dead. Zetas gunmen allegedly torched the gaming establishment after its owner refused to pay protection money.

It also is suspected in the 2010 slayings in Tamaulipas of 72 illegal immigrants, mostly Central Americans, who were apparently killed after refusing to work for the cartel as couriers or enforcers.

The Zetas also are blamed for the murder of around 200 people whose bodies were found in 2011 in a series of clandestine graves, also in Tamaulipas.

The group has drawn the ire of older, established cartels through its extensive involvement in extortion, kidnapping for ransom and robbery, crimes that the other drug mobs generally eschew out of a desire to avoid antagonizing the general public. EFE