Photo: Gilberto Barragan “The Namesake”
Mexican federal police captured a leading member of the Gulf drug cartel Friday at what appeared to have been his birthday party, authorities said.
Gilberto Barragan Balderas “is considered one of the main leaders of the Gulf Cartel” and is the subject of a $5 million reward by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said Ramon Pequeno, head of anti-drug operations for the federal police.
Barragan Balderas was allegedly in charge of the cartel’s operations in Miguel Aleman, across the border from Roma, Texas. Police captured him at a party at a ranch near another border city, Reynosa, which is across from McAllen, Texas.
The Gulf and Zetas cartels are now bitter rivals, and federal police said one of Barragan Balderas’ “duties was to defend territory in Tamaulipas against attacks by the rival Zetas.”
The Zetas have also been expanding into other territories in Mexico and engaging in a series of turf battles with gangs other than the Gulf.
Also Friday, President Felipe Calderon met with a delegation of U.S. lawmakers led by Rep. Connie Mack, a Florida Republican who is chairman of the House subcommittee on Western Hemisphere affairs.
Calderon’s office said in a statement that the president stressed “the importance of combating ever more firmly and efficiently weapons trafficking and money laundering,” two elements that Mexico says fuel the bloody drug war that has cost over 35,000 lives since late 2006.
He also “stressed the importance of fully recognizing the contributions that Mexican migrants make to the U.S. economy and society.”