MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican police have captured a suspected drug enforcer blamed for ordering the murder of the son of a prominent poet, which helped prompt national protests against the government’s drug war strategy, authorities said on Wednesday.
Federal police caught Julio de Jesus Radilla, 34, known as “El Negro” (The Black One), in the oil port of Coatzacoalcos on the Gulf of Mexico where he was hiding out, regional police chief Luis Cardenas told reporters.
Police said Radilla sent hitmen to kill the son of poet Javier Sicilia and six other young men in March in the tourist town of Cuernavaca near Mexico City.
After the murder, Sicilia slammed the government’s campaign to break the drug cartels and launched a campaign to end the relentless violence, which has claimed nearly 40,000 lives since President Felipe Calderon sent in the army in late 2006.
Sicilia has become the face of civilian opposition to the drug war. He led thousands of people earlier this month in a march on Mexico City against the relentless killing, one of the biggest demonstrations of its kind in years.
Radilla is believed to be a leader of the South Pacific cartel run by kingpin Hector Beltran Leyva, which is fighting rivals for control of Cuernavaca and the strategic Pacific resort city of Acapulco.
Radilla’s arrest follows last week’s arrest of Victor Valdez, known as “El Gordo Varilla” (The Big Stick), in Cuernavaca. He is accused of being the second-in-command in the cartel.
Reporting by Anahi Rama; Editing by Will Dunham