The leader of the Gulf drug cartel, one of Mexico's most powerful criminal organizations, was captured by army troops during an operation in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, the government said.

Mario Armando Ramirez Treviño was arrested on Saturday, the Government Secretariat said.

"The Government of the Republic reports that the Mexican army captured Mario Armando Ramirez Treviño, leader of a criminal organization that operates in the northern part of the country, this morning," the secretariat said in a brief statement released Saturday evening.

More information will be released about the capture of Ramirez Treviño, known as "El X20" and "El Pelon," on Sunday, the secretariat said in a two-paragraph statement.

Several suspects were arrested in an operation Saturday morning in Tamaulipas, which borders Texas, Defense Secretariat officials told Efe.

Army troops in helicopters took part in the operation in the city of Rio Bravo, the officials said.

Zetas cartel boss Miguel Angel Treviño Morales, known as "Z40," was captured on July 15 in Nuevo Laredo by soldiers who used helicopters to follow him.

Ramirez Treviño took over the Gulf cartel's leadership about 11 months ago.

The cartel's two previous top bosses, Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sanchez, known as "El Coss," and Mario Cardenas Guillen, who went by the alias "El Gordo," were arrested last year.

Ramirez Treviño's arrest is the biggest blow to the Gulf cartel since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office on Dec. 1.

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 took over the leadership.

Cardenas Guillen was the leader of one of the two branches of the criminal organization.

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 branched out into kidnappings and running extortion rackets, targeting businesses. EFE