Mexican authorities have arrested the purported head of the once-powerful La Familia Michoacana drug cartel in the eastern region of Mexico state, prosecutors said.

Juan Carlos Muñoz Vargas, 36, was detained during a police operation in the state capital of Toluca, the attorney general of that state, which surrounds Mexico City on three sides, said Thursday in a press conference.

According to Alfredo Castillo, Muñoz controlled drug sales in the cities of Ciudad Neza, Chimalhuacan, Texcoco, Los Reyes La Paz and San Vicente Chicoloapan and ran extortion rackets at bars.

The suspect earned more than 8 million pesos ($600,000) every six months from those activities, Castillo said, adding that Muñoz confessed to having ordered at least 23 murders in and around Ciudad Neza.

The prosecutor said Muñoz had served a two-and-a-half-year prison term in the U.S. state of Florida for drug trafficking and was deported to Mexico after completing his sentence.

La Familia Michoacana, which was formed in 2006, has been seriously weakened by the arrests and killings of several of its top leaders, and the creation of a splinter group known as Los Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar).

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. EFE