Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sanchez, the Gulf drug cartel's top boss and one of the most-wanted men in Mexico and the United States, was captured by marines with no resistance, the Navy Secretariat said Thursday.
Costilla Sanchez, known as "El Coss," was arrested Wednesday at a house in Tampico, a port city in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, thanks to naval intelligence work and information obtained from two Gulf cartel members arrested recently, navy spokesman Rear Adm. Jose Luis Vergara said.
The suspect "headed the Gulf cartel, considered the country's second most powerful criminal organization," Vergara said.
Costilla Sanchez was paraded before reporters in Mexico City on Thursday.
"Stealthily, 'El Coss' overcame the internal divisions (in the Gulf cartel) and ordered violent confrontations in Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon (states) with their former allies, Los Zetas," after the arrest of Gulf cartel top boss Osiel Cardenas Guillen, the navy spokesman said.
The Attorney General's Office was offering a reward of up to 30 million pesos ($2.3 million) for information leading to Costilla Sanchez's arrest, while the U.S. Justice Department had put a $5 million price on his head, Vergara said.
The 41-year-old Costilla Sanchez, who was arrested along with five bodyguards, is the subject of at least two investigations in Mexico and of an arrest warrant issued by a court in Texas, Vergara said.
Thirty marines took part in the operation to capture Costilla Sanchez, the navy spokesman said.
The operation was launched following the arrest Tuesday of Juan Gabriel Montes Sermeño, a Gulf cartel regional boss, and the capture last week of Mario Cardenas Guillen, the leader of one of the two branches of the criminal organization.
Marines seized two rifles, four handguns, 24 ammunition clips, 460 rounds of ammunition, three vehicles and jewelry with "very high commercial value," the navy spokesman said.
Five men suspected of being Costilla Sanchez's bodyguards were arrested by marines in Rio Bravo, a city in Tamaulipas, a few hours before his capture.
The suspects were carrying six rifles, more than 3,500 rounds of ammunition, nearly 140 ammunition clips and other gear, Vergara said.
The Gulf cartel, one of Mexico's oldest drug trafficking organizations, 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 took over the cartel's leadership in July 1999, but he was arrested in 2003. He continued running the Gulf cartel, one of the most violent criminal organizations in Mexico, until his extradition to the United States on Jan. 20, 2007.
He was succeeded by his brother, Antonio Ezequiel, known as "Tony Tormenta."
Antonio Ezequiel Cardenas Guillen was killed in a shootout with marines on Nov. 5, 2010, and Costilla Sanchez had been running the cartel since that time.
The Gulf cartel is no longer as powerful as it was in the past, partly because of its break with Los Zetas, the criminal organization's former armed wing, which severed ties with the cartel in 2010 and now runs its own narcotics trafficking business.
The Gulf organization, which mainly deals in cocaine, synthetic drugs and marijuana, mostly operates in northern Mexico and the country's eastern coastal areas.
The cartel, like other Mexican criminal organizations, has expanded into kidnappings and extortion rackets, targeting businesses. EFE