Mexican federal forces arrested the son of the Jalisco New Generation drug cartel’s leader on Tuesday, officials said, dealing a blow to a gang that has violently defied authorities.
It is the second time that authorities arrest Ruben Oseguera, the son of Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera, as he was released in December due to lack of evidence.
Ruben Oseguera, alias “El Menchito” (Little Mencho), was arrested by federal police and soldiers in Zapopan, a suburb of Jalisco state’s capital, Guadalajara, a federal official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
A second official said he was arrested in the early morning and transferred to the federal prosecutor’s office in Mexico City.
“It’s a very important arrest,” said Javier Oliva, security expert at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. “It is without a doubt a blow that can diminish the cartel’s strength.”
The western state of Jalisco is the bastion of the New Generation, which has killed some 30 police officers and soldiers since March and on May 1 downed a military helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade.
Federal police killed 42 suspected cartel members on a ranch in the neighboring state of Michoacan on May 22.
Authorities say they died in a gunfight, but the National Human Rights Commission is investigating whether abuses were committed after the lopsided death toll raised questions. Only one officer was killed.
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Ruben Oseguera was previously arrested in January 2014 in Guadalajara, Jalisco’s capital and Mexico’s second biggest city.
At the time, officials considered him the New Generation’s second-in-command, accusing him of being responsible for finances and coordinating the trafficking of drugs from South America.
He was suspected of ordering executions, planning the theft of fuel and preventing the incursion of rivals in the gang’s territory.
But a court ordered his release 11 months later, citing a lack of evidence.
The New Generation has emerged as one of the most powerful and dangerous cartels this year, with officials saying it produces its own assault rifles in makeshift assembly plants.
The elder Oseguera is a new challenge to Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who had been able to boast about the captures of the leaders of the Sinaloa, Zetas, Gulf and Knights Templar drug cartels since taking office in 2012.
Founded in the western state of Jalisco, the cartel now has a presence in other regions, while forging ties with criminal organizations in the United States, Latin America, Africa, Europe and Asia, according to the US Treasury Department.
The criminal group was once an armed wing of the feared Sinaloa cartel, fighting turf wars with the Knights Templar gang in Michoacan and the Zetas in other states.
The New Generation became independent after the Sinaloa cartel’s regional leader in Jalisco, Ignacio Coronel Villarreal, alias “Nacho Coronel,” was killed while resisting arrest in 2010.
Nemesio Oseguera was added to the US Treasury Department’s kingpin sanctions list in April, along with brother-in-law Abigael Gonzalez Valencia, the leader of the Los Cuinis gang, who was arrested in February.