Page last updated at 10:00 GMT, Thursday, 17 December 2009

Mexican forces kill drug lord Arturo Beltran Leyva

Arturo Beltran Leyva
One of Mexico's most-wanted drug traffickers
Had $2.3m bounty on his head
One of five brothers

One of Mexico's most-wanted drug lords has been killed in a shoot-out with state security forces, officials say.

Arturo Beltran Leyva and four alleged members of his cartel died in a raid by troops on a flat in Cuernavaca, just south of Mexico City.

The Beltran Leyva cartel, based on the Pacific coast, is one of Mexico's most powerful and violent drug gangs.

Meanwhile, the severed heads of six policemen were found near a church in the north of the country, police said.

They said the beheadings in Durango state were a revenge attack by the Gulf cartel for the killing of 10 gang members last week.

The severed heads, left in plastic bags outside the church before dawn, were discovered by garbage collectors, the state attorney general's office said.

'Boss of bosses'

Arturo Beltran Leyva, known as the "boss of bosses", was one of five brothers who split from the Sinaloa cartel and aligned themselves with Los Zetas, a group of former soldiers hired by the Gulf Cartel as hit men.

Soldiers arrive near an apartment complex in Cuernavaca, Mexico
More than 200 soldiers were involved in the operation

The split is believed to have fuelled much of the bloodshed across Mexico, where more than 14,000 people have died in drugs-related violence since 2006.

The Mexican government listed Beltran Leyva as one its 24 most-wanted drug traffickers and had offered a $2.3m (£1.4m) reward for his capture.

A Navy statement described the gun battle in which Beltran Leyva was killed as "intense". It involved at least 200 members of Mexico's armed forces.

Reports said three soldiers were injured by grenade fragments during the operation in Cuernavaca, a city of 350,000 that is a popular weekend retreat spot.

An Associated Press reporter at the scene described hearing at least 10 explosions.


More than 200 soldiers were involved in the operation

During the gunbattle, sailors went door to door to evacuate residents of the upmarket residential complex, AP reported.

Drug gangs 'weakening'

Mexico's authorities are battling a wave of violence by drug gangs fighting over smuggling routes to the US.

The Obama administration delivered five helicopters to Mexico on Wednesday to help it in its fight.

Washington says the rising death toll is a sign the drug gangs are weakening under President Calderon's military crackdown, which has seen some 49,000 extra troops deploy across Mexico.

Drug cartels map, updated 17 December

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Times Online Mexico's drug 'Boss of Bosses' shot dead in raid on luxury hideout - 7 hrs ago
The Scotsman Drugs baron dubbed 'Boss of Bosses' dies in shoot-out at luxury apartment - 8 hrs ago
South China Morning Post Mexican navy take out top drug baron in shoot-out - 12 hrs ago
Mail Online UK Mexican troops kill drug lord Arturo Beltran Leyva and members of his cartel in raid - 18 hrs ago Top Mexican Drug Lord Dead After Clash With Troops - 19 hrs ago

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