MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico has captured a senior drug trafficker with links to the country’s most wanted man, Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman, who has suffered a series of blows in recent weeks.
Mexico’s federal police said on Wednesday they captured Luis Rodriguez Olivera, known as “El Guero” (Blondie), for whom U.S. authorities are offering a reward of up to $5 million.
In a statement, Mexican police said Rodriguez Olivera and his brothers were responsible for trafficking cocaine to the United States between 1996 and 2008 for Guzman’s gang.
But a “wanted” statement on the U.S. State Department’s website said Rodriguez Olivera and his brothers split with the Sinaloa cartel around 2005 and later forged a strong relationship with Guzman’s rivals in the Los Zetas cartel.
The U.S. statement was undated but posted after 2008.
U.S. and Mexican authorities could not immediately say where the allegiances of the 39-year-old Rodriguez Olivera lay at the time of his arrest on Tuesday in Mexico City.
At the end of last week, Mexican security forces arrested a senior lieutenant of Guzman, the latest setback for the country’s most powerful drug trafficker.
President Felipe Calderon’s conservative administration has been dominated by a military crackdown on drug cartels that has claimed more than 45,000 lives in the past five years, eroding support for his National Action Party, or PAN.
The PAN has been trailing its main rival for months as Mexico gears up for a presidential election in July 2012.
Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by John O'Callaghan