Photo: Los Zetas Arrested
Seven Los Zetas drug cartel members were arrested by the Federal Police on kidnapping and other charges in Monterrey, the capital of the northern state of Nuevo Leon, the Mexican Public Safety Secretariat said.
The suspects have been linked to at least six kidnapping, murder, sexual assault and auto theft cases in Monterrey, Mexico’s leading industrial city, the secretariat said.
Two people being held captive by the suspects were rescued by the Federal Police, the secretariat said.
The gang selected its victims at random, intercepted them while they were driving, threatened them with firearms and took them to safe houses, the secretariat said.
Kevin Alejandro Sifuentes, 18, Leonardo Daniel Gonzalez, 18, Jesus Aleman Gonzalez, 21, Jose Ismael, Alfredo Salvador, Jovany Alejandro and a man identified only as Javier “N” were arrested at a safe house in Monterrey’s poor Solidaridad neighborhood that officers had been watching, the secretariat said.
The Federal Police seized a Seat Ibiza with tags from Tamaulipas state, an AK-47 assault rifle, an ammunition clip, ammunition, 11 cell phones and two radios in the operation.
The suspects and the property seized in the operation were turned over to federal prosecutors.
Mexico has been plagued for years by a wave of violence unleashed by organized crime groups involved in kidnappings and drug, arms and people trafficking.
An average of 49 kidnappings per day occurred in Mexico in 2011, marking a significant increase from the prior year, the Council for Law and Human Rights, or CLDH, said in a report released late last month.
A total of 17,889 kidnappings occurred in Mexico last year, up 32 percent from the 13,505 abductions registered in 2010, the non-governmental organization said.
The figures do not include “express kidnappings,” in which a victim is held for only a few hours, the CLDH said.
Hundreds of express kidnappings occur in Mexico City daily, with taxi drivers usually assisting the criminals, the NGO said.
About one-third of the kidnappers arrested by the Federal Police, according to official figures, have links to drug cartels.