Photo: Francisco Ramirez Rivero
A top drug trafficker was captured in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, where additional security forces units were deployed to deal with a wave of drug-related violence, a high-level federal official said.
Francisco Ramirez Rivero, who also goes by the name Juan Fernando Alvarez Cortes, was arrested last Saturday at a tollbooth on the highway that links the northern cities of Monterrey and Nuevo Laredo, National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido said.
The suspect was on the list of 11 top criminal targets identified by the federal government last week as part of the new law enforcement strategy for Tamaulipas.
Rubido did not identify the criminal organization to which the suspect belongs, but media reports said he was a member of the violent Los Zetas drug cartel.
The suspect was riding in a public bus at the time of his arrest and was trying to evade the federal security forces units patrolling the area, Rubido said.
The cartel boss was headed for Nuevo Laredo, a city across the Rio Grande from Laredo, Texas, due to “indications that a rival group planned an attempt on his life,” the national security commissioner said.
Ramirez Rivero is suspected of being a regional boss for Los Zetas and one of the cartel’s top members.
Authorities seized an AK-47 assault rifle, ammunition and drugs that the suspect was carrying in a suitcase.
Ramirez Rivero was arrested on May 10, 2010, but he escaped from prison in December of the same year along with several other inmates, Rubido said.
The Zetas cartel, a criminal organization known for its use of extreme violence, has been fighting the Gulf cartel for control of Tamaulipas and smuggling routes into the United States.
Tamaulipas has been rocked by a wave of drug-related violence in recent weeks.
A total of 16 bodies were found by the security forces at two locations in Tamaulipas earlier this week.
The bodies of three women and four men were found Sunday night in an SUV abandoned on a closed street in the port city of Tampico, the Tamaulipas Coordination Group, or GCT, said on Monday.
The bodies of five men and four women were discovered Monday morning in a farming community outside the city of Hidalgo, the GCT said in a separate statement.
The federal government said last week it was deploying more security forces units in Tamaulipas and planned to purge the state’s law enforcement agencies in an effort to stop a spike in drug-related violence.
Government Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong announced the expanded deployment last Tuesday in the border city of Reynosa, unveiling a “new phase” of the federal security strategy for Tamaulipas aimed at restoring to residents “the peace and safety they deserve.”
Patrols will be stepped up at ports, airports, customs posts, border crossings and highways, with inspections of prisons and nightspots where criminal activities occur being expanded, Osorio Chong said.
Read more at Blog del Narco in Spanish