A Gulf drug cartel boss and three other suspected members of the criminal organization were captured by marines in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, the Navy Secretariat said Tuesday.

Lauro Tijerina Murrieta allegedly ran the cartel's operations in the city of General Bravo, the secretariat said in a statement.

The four suspects were arrested on Monday by marines who were on patrol near General Bravo.

Tijerina Murrieta "maintained operational control over illegal activities" for the Gulf cartel in General Bravo, the secretariat said, citing naval intelligence reports.

General Bravo is an "important place for the Gulf cartel because it is used as a drug warehousing and distribution site," the secretariat said.

The city is only 70 kilometers (43 miles) from the U.S. border and 94 kilometers (58 miles) from Reynosa, a border city in Tamaulipas state.

Tijerina Murrieta apparently got his orders directly from Julio Cantu Tijerina, suspected of being the Gulf organization's regional boss, the secretariat said.

The other three suspects were identified as Lauro Tijerina Garcia, Abel Guerra Hernandez and Jhosep Solis Gonzalez, the secretariat said, adding that all three were armed.

Marines seized a vehicle, a rifle, three handguns, 16 ammunition clips, three grenades, nine radios, 15 cell phones, 250 bags of a powder that appears to be cocaine, 350 rounds of ammunition and a military-style uniform, among other items, from the suspects, the Navy Secretariat said.

The Gulf cartel has been fighting Los Zetas for control of smuggling routes from Nuevo Leon into the United States.

After several years as the armed wing of the Gulf cartel, Los Zetas went into the drug business on their own account and now control several lucrative territories.

The Gulf organization was founded by Juan Nepomuceno Guerra in the 1970s and was later led by Juan Garcia Abrego, who was arrested in 1996 and extradited to the United States.

Osiel Cardenas Guillen later became the Gulf cartel's undisputed boss.

Cardenas was arrested in 2003, but he continued running the Gulf cartel, one of the most violent and powerful criminal organizations in Mexico, until his extradition to the United States four years later.

The wave of drug-related violence in Nuevo Leon claimed the lives of 2,003 people in 2011, official figures show. EFE