updated 2/8/2010 8:57:49 PM ET 2010-02-09T01:57:49

Mexican authorities on Monday arrested two suspected leaders of a brutal drug trafficking gang that terrorized the border city of Tijuana for several years, a U.S. official said.

The capture of Raydel Lopez Uriarte and Manuel Garcia Simental apparently wipes out the existing leadership of the cartel headed by Teodoro Garcia Simental, who was captured last month. Teodoro and Manuel Garcia are brothers.

Lopez, known as "El Muletas," and Garcia, known as "El Chiquilin," were arrested Monday in La Paz, a city in the southern end of the Baja California peninsula, said Amy Roderick, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. She had no further details on the operation that led to their capture.

Mexican federal prosecutors and police declined to comment.

The two men were allegedly the top lieutenants of Teodoro Garcia before his capture, also in La Paz. The gang was known for its brutality, having executed, beheaded and mutilated hundreds of rivals in Tijuana. Gang members pinned notes to corpses and dissolved bodies in caustic soda.

Tedoro Garcia's arrest Jan. 12 was considered a victory for enhanced surveillance techniques that are being cultivated with the assistance of the United States. That raid also netted 19 mobile phones and two laptop computers.

Twelve more cartel suspects were arrested in two raids in late January, including two men and a women who were allegedly about to dissolve a body in a bathtub with chemicals.

Teodoro Garcia was once considered a top hit man for Tijuana's dominant drug gang, the family-run Arellano-Felix cartel. He launched a new group affiliated with the Sinaloa cartel after law enforcement arrested or killed most of the Tijuana cartel leaders in 2008.

The splintered organizations have been involved in a violent turf battle in Tijuana, a valuable trafficking corridor to the U.S.

More than 15,000 people have been killed since President Felipe Calderon launched a crackdown on cartels three years ago, including more than 2,500 people in Ciudad Juarez last year.

The military announced Monday that soldiers had seized more than 12 tons of marijuana found beneath a false floor of a tractor trailer. The drugs were found during a routine search at a checkpoint near San Felipe, a town in the central part of the Baja California peninsula.

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