A man suspected of being a close associate of Sinaloa drug cartel boss Joaquin "El Chapo" (Shorty) Guzman and wanted in connection with the murder of human rights activist Nepomuceno Moreno was arrested by the army, the Mexican Defense Secretariat said.

Jesus Alfredo Salazar Ramirez was captured last Thursday in Huixquilucan, a city in Mexico state, by soldiers with the assistance of the Attorney General's Office, the secretariat said.

Salazar Ramirez was considered one of Guzman's "most important" associates and allegedly oversaw the planting, production and trafficking of drugs in Sonora state and part of Chihuahua state, both located in northern Mexico, smuggling the drugs into the United States, the secretariat said in a statement.

He is suspected of being the leader of the Los Salazar gang, which is part of the Sinaloa organization.

Salazar Ramirez was allegedly involved in numerous murders in the states of Sonora, Chihuahua and Sinaloa, as well as the Federal District, the secretariat said.

The gang boss was allegedly involved in the Nov. 28, 2011, killing of Nepomuceno Moreno, a human rights activist who was demanding justice for his missing son and belonged to poet Javier Sicilia's Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity.

Salazar Ramirez is the subject of an arrest warrant issued by a federal court in Texas in 2006 on drug charges.

He is also the subject of an arrest warrant issued in 2009 by a federal court in Mexico City for his extradition on drug and criminal conspiracy charges.

Another close associate of Chapo Guzman was arrested a week ago in the northern state of Chihuahua.

Jose Salgueiro Nevarez was captured on Oct. 29 along with five other suspected drug traffickers in an operation staged by 42nd Military Zone troops in Hidalgo de Parral, Chihuahua.

Salgueiro Nevarez controlled marijuana production in southern Chihuahua, the smuggling of drugs into the United States, retail drug sales and extortion rackets targeting businesses, mainly mining companies, officials said.

Joaquin "El Chapo" (Shorty) Guzman, the world's most-wanted drug trafficker, has been on the list of U.S. drug kingpins since June 1, 2001.

The Sinaloa organization, sometimes referred to by Mexican officials as the Pacific cartel, is the oldest drug cartel in Mexico and has an extensive drug distribution network in the United States.

Guzman, who was arrested in Guatemala in 1993 and pulled off a Hollywood-style jailbreak when he escaped from the Puente Grande maximum-security prison in the western state of Jalisco on Jan. 19, 2001, is considered the most powerful drug trafficker in the world.

Chapo Guzman tops the list of Mexico's most-wanted criminals and is on the Forbes list of the world's richest people.

The Sinaloa cartel, according to intelligence agencies, is a transnational business empire that operates in the United States, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Americas and Asia. EFE