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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 August, 2003, 22:18 GMT 23:18 UK
Mexico arrests 'drug baron'
Armando Valencia Cornelio
Valencia will face charges in Mexico first
Mexican troops have captured a suspected drug baron wanted in both Mexico and the United States, officials have announced.

Armando Valencia Cornelio, was captured on Friday along with seven of his gang, in the city of Guadalajara.

Mexican Attorney General Rafael Macedo de la Concha, told reporters the group was suspected of carrying out one-third of drug shipments from Mexico to the US.

The United States Drug Enforcement Agency has described Mr Valencia as providing a key link between Colombian cocaine smugglers and the US border.

Mr Valencia was indicted on American federal drug trafficking charges four years ago.

The US wants to have him extradited, but Mr Macedo said he would face legal charges in Mexico first.

Mr Valencia leads a "cruel" and murderous cartel operating across the country, with strong Colombia connections, said Defence Minister Clemente Vega.

The suspects were captured while meeting in restaurants in and near Guadalajara, officials said.

They are accused of shipping an estimated 100 tonnes of drugs, mainly cocaine, to the US each year, using tuna boats as a cover. Much of the drugs ended up in New York and Chicago, officials said.

According to Mexican officials, Mr Valencia rose to prominence after the death of drug kingpin Amado Carrillo Fuentes in 1997.

He is also said to have ties to the notorious Arellano Felix drug cartel based in Tijuana.

The BBC's Franc Contreras
"The news of his capture will certainly shake up the underworld of drug traffickers"

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