Mexico's federal police have captured a presumed leader of a cross-border drug gang suspected in dozens of killings, including the slaying of U.S. consulate workers, authorities announced Sunday.
Arturo Gallegos Castrellon, 32, was arrested Saturday in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, which is considered the most violent city in Mexico.
Gallegos is suspected in last January's killing of 15 youths at a party, a massacre that shocked even the violence-hardened people of Ciudad Juarez, and in the March murder of a U.S. consulate employee in that city, regional security chief Luis Cardenas Palomino said.
Gallegos also claimed responsibility for the shooting death of Lesley Enriquez, who worked at the U.S. Consulate in the border city, according to The New York Times. Enriquez, who was pregnant, died alongside her husband, Arthur Redelfs, after they returned from a child's birthday party in Ciudad Juarez to their El Paso home, the Times report said.
The couple's seven-month-old daughter, who was riding in the back of their white SUV, survived the attack unharmed, according to the Times, but the husband of a consulate employee died in similar circumstances to Enriquez and Redelfs that same afternoon.
The alleged gang leader is also accused of killing five federal agents in unrelated attacks.
Cartel battlesGallegos told authorities that he was behind 80 percent of killings in Ciudad Juarez since August of last year, The Los Angeles Times reported. More than 6,500 people have died in drug-related violence there since early 2008, the newspaper said, citing unofficial tallies.
Gallegos is purported to be one of the leaders of the Aztecas gang that operates both in Ciudad Juarez and across the border in El Paso, Texas.
The Aztecs work as hired assassins for the Juarez cartel, which is fighting its rival, the Sinaloa cartel, for control of Ciudad Juarez and lucrative border routes for smuggling drugs into the United States, Mexican authorities say.
Two other members of the gang were arrested with Gallegos on charges of transporting drugs and weapons.
Authorities said they seized 228 cartridges, 90 grams of marijuana and four vehicles, one of them armored.