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Tuesday, August 18, 1998 Published at 23:15 GMT 00:15 UK

World: Americas

Mexican 'ear lopper' arrested

Daniel Arizmendi: One of Mexico's most wanted

A former Mexican policeman, who allegedly cut off the ears or fingers of up to 200 kidnap victims, has been arrested.

Emma Paterson reports from Mexico City on the arrest
Daniel Arizmendi is alleged to have mutilated his victims in order to secure ransom money for their release.

One of Mexico's most wanted criminals, he was captured during a raid on a house outside Mexico City after evading the police for several months.

Millions of dollars were recovered in the police operation, and 16 other people were taken into custody.

The BBC's Stephen Gibbs: Mexico will sleep easier
Speaking to journalists, the Mexican attorney general, Jorge Madrazo, said Mr Arizmendi was on his way to a maximum-security prison.

The authorities, he said, had successfully dismantled one of the most frightening criminal bands in the country.

There were suspicions that former colleagues within the police force had offered Mr Arizmendi protection.

Our correspondent says Mr Arizmendi's ability to evade the authorities became a source of growing embarrassment, highlighting concerns about corruption within law-enforcement agencies.

Now the authorities are hoping that news of his detention will help rebuild public confidence in the police and the rule of law.

Family business

Mr Arizmendi's wife, a former nurse, was allegedly in charge of cutting off the ears and fingers of hostages and posting them to relatives with a ransom note. She was arrested in May.

Mr Arizmendi's brother and alleged accomplice, Aurelio, was also arrested last month.

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