A leader and eight members of the Guerreros Unidos gang in the city of Cuernavaca were arrested in the central Mexican state of Morelos, the Defense Secretariat said Wednesday.

"With the arrest of Erasmo Israel Sotelo Hernandez, alias El Frio, and eight other people, the Guerreros Unidos criminal group's organization in the state of Morelos has been affected, containing its operational capacity" in the city of Cuernavaca, the secretariat said in a statement.

Three women, including a minor, were among those arrested on Monday, the secretariat said.

Sotelo Hernandez faces charges "for at least 30 murders," the secretariat said.

The gang leader was a member of the Beltran Leyva drug cartel, which operates in Morelos and neighboring Guerrero state, until June and then ran Guerreros Unidos's operations in Cuernavaca.

Sotelo Hernandez took over the gang's operations in the city following the June 7 arrest of Raul Diaz Roman in Tecamac, a city in Mexico state, which surrounds the Federal District and forms part of the Mexico City metropolitan area.

Diaz Roman was Sotelo Hernandez's immediate superior in the Beltran Leyva cartel, the Defense Secretariat said.

Mario Casarrubias Salgado, the suspected leader of Guerreros Unidos, made Sotelo Hernandez the gang's boss in Cuernavaca, the capital of Morelos, where he "imposed his leadership via executions," the Defense Secretariat said.

Soldiers seized 13 firearms - seven rifles and six handguns - from the suspects, as well as 12,400 rounds of ammunition, cocaine, marijuana and communications gear.

Guerreros Unidos, which was formed in 2011, operates in southern Mexico, principally in the cities of Iguala, Taxco and Ciudad Altamirano, all in Guerrero state, and Cuernavaca. EFE