Army soldiers captured a regional boss of the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel in the central state of Puebla, Mexico's defense department said.

Gonzalo Martin Souza and associate Jose Bahena Salgado were taken into custody Thursday in Puebla city, the state capital, in a 12-hour-long operation that also led to the seizure of 24 kilos of cocaine, three vehicles and $250,000 in cash.

Souza oversaw the smuggling of cocaine to the United States, the defense department said in a statement.

The drugs were usually placed in hidden compartments on U.S.-bound buses and other vehicles, according to the statement.

The Guerreros Unidos outfit, which arose in 2011 as a splinter group of the once-powerful Beltran Leyva cartel, operates in the states of Puebla, Guerrero, Mexico and Morelos. EFE