Mexico catches leader of Gulf Cartel drug gang

MEXICO CITY Tue Sep 4, 2012 5:30pm EDT

1 of 6. Mexican marines escort Mario Cardenas Guillen (C), alias 'El Gordo or El M-1', as he is presented to the media in Mexico City September 4, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Henry Romero

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico has captured a leader of the country's Gulf Cartel in one of the highest-profile arrests in months in President Felipe Calderon's war on drug gangs.

Mario Cardenas was captured in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas on Monday by Mexican marines, a source told Reuters. He was paraded in front of the media in Mexico City on Tuesday.

The Gulf Cartel's power has waned in recent years in a feud with Mexico's most brutal gang, the Zetas, which began life providing protection to the cartel's operations in northeastern Mexico.

Cardenas has helped run the cartel since his brother Antonio Cardenas, known as "Tony Tormenta," was killed in a 2010 gunfight with the Mexican government.

Wearing a blue flak jacket and flip-flops and flanked by two masked marines wielding semiautomatic rifles, the balding Cardenas stood impassively, looking up occasionally, as officials read out details of the operation to capture him.

An official said he was caught with weapons, ammunition, around $10,000 worth of pesos in cash, and four small envelopes containing a white powder that appeared to be cocaine.

During Calderon's six-year offensive against cartels, there have been more than 55,000 drug-related killings. More than 3,000 police and soldiers have died, although many were involved with the gangs.

(Writing by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Simon Gardner and Eric Beech)

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