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Monday, 25 February, 2002, 15:16 GMT
Mexican drug lord 'killed'
Ramon Arellano Felix
Ramon Arellano Felix: Head of the Tijuana Cartel
Ramon Arellano Felix's picture appears next to Osama Bin Laden's on the FBI's list of most wanted fugitives - but now Mexican officials fear he has disappeared forever.

Police believe they killed the head of Mexico's most notorious drug cartel in a shootout two weeks ago in the coastal city of Mazatlan.

False ID, believed to belong to Arellano Felix
The man who was killed was carrying false a ID
But before they had time to identify the body, a "relative" of Arellano Felix picked it up from a funeral home and had it cremated.

Now police have sent a mobile crime lab to carry out some DNA tests in an attempt to get a positive identification.

US and Mexican officials said that Arellano Felix and his brother Benjamin headed the powerful Tijuana Cartel, which is held responsible for distributing tonnes of cocaine and marijuana in the US.

The gang is also believed to have killed dozens of rivals, officials and police officers in its fight to control the multi-million dollar drugs trade.

Local newspapers reported that on 10 February, Arellano Felix and members of his gang travelled to Mazatlan to kill a rival drug lord.

The shootout allegedly occurred when the group ran into a group of police. Two men were killed.

One of them was identified as Efrain Quintero, wanted in connection with the murders of 12 people. The other is believed to be Arellano Felix.

Gun link

The Mexican Attorney General, Rafael Macedo, said a gun found in the dead man's car was identified as the weapon used in the murder of two judges who had presided over drug cases.

Mr Macedo said police were trying to determine who picked the body up from the funeral home.

The man who did so claimed to be a cousin of Jorge Perez Lopez, an alias believed to have been used by Arellano Felix.

Whoever he was, the body of the man bearing false identification with the name of Jorge Perez Lopez has now been cremated.

See also:

11 Jul 01 | Americas
Wanted 'hit man' found in jail
30 May 01 | Americas
Mexican ex-police officer murdered
08 Jun 00 | Americas
Mexico's most feared family
05 May 00 | Americas
Mexico captures drug baron
09 Jun 00 | World
Drugs: A global business
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