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Mexico seizes top drugs suspect

Eduardo Arellano-Felix in custody on 26 October
The US is seeking Eduardo Arellano Felix's extradition

Mexican security forces have arrested a man they say is one of the leaders of the country's notorious Arellano Felix drug trafficking cartel.

Eduardo Arellano Felix was arrested after a shootout in the city of Tijuana on the US border, officials said.

The family-run cartel is one of Mexico's four big drug mafias, blamed for trafficking hundreds of tonnes of cocaine and marijuana into the US.

The US state department had offered offering $5m (3m) for his capture.

Mr Arellano Felix, nicknamed The Doctor, was arrested on Saturday night after police chased his car to a wealthy neighbourhood of Tijuana, officials said.

A three-hour gun battle erupted involving more than 100 police and soldiers and the house was riddled with bullets, federal police were quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.

A girl, believed to be his 11-year-old daughter, was at home at the time but was not harmed, police said.

"The generation of brothers who formed this criminal organisation has been dissolved," said Mexican Assistant Public Security Secretary Facundo Rosas.

Internal feud

The Arellano Felix family dominated drug-smuggling routes from Mexico to the US in the 1990s but the cartel has been weakened in recent years with the deaths or capture of its leaders.

The bullet-riddled house in Tijuana where Eduardo Arellano-Felix was arrested
The house where the suspect was seized was riddled with bullets

Two brothers are in jail in the US and Mexico, a third is now free after serving time in an American prison, while another was shot dead by Mexican police in 2002.

Mexican officials believe the cartel is now run by a sister, Enedina Arellano Felix, and her son, Luis Fernando Sanchez Arellano.

Eduardo Arellano Felix, suspected of being number two in the gang's hierarchy, is sought by the US on drug smuggling and money laundering charges.

The blows against the Arellano Felix family have spurred other gangs to move in to their home turf of Tijuana, correspondents say.

The cartel itself is also reported to have been hit by internal feuding.

Tijuana, just across the border from the US city of San Diego, has been one of the focal points of bloody drug violence that has led to some 4,000 deaths in Mexico so far this year.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has deployed some 36,000 soldiers and federal police to battle the drugs gangs.

Last week, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that the US was making progress in releasing funds promised under the Merida Initiative, a $400m package to help Mexico fight the drugs trade.


SEE ALSO
Mexico hunts prosecutor's killers
26 Oct 08 |  Americas
Mexican 'drug cartel boss' seized
22 Oct 08 |  Americas
Mexicans' drug trade fears grow
22 Sep 08 |  Americas
Gunmen kill top Mexican policemen
11 May 08 |  Americas
Country profile: Mexico
02 Sep 08 |  Country profiles

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Sky News 'Drug Baron' Held After Shootout - 22 hrs ago
Al Jazeera Key Mexico drugs suspect arrested - 28 hrs ago
CNN Arellano Felix member arrested - 29 hrs ago
Al Jazeera Mexico arrests key drugs suspect - 30 hrs ago
CNN Mexico arrests alleged Arellano Felix member - 31 hrs ago



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