Page last updated at 13:43 GMT, Saturday, 21 March 2009

Monterrey attack suspect arrested

By Stephen Gibbs
BBC News, Mexico City

Sigifrido Najera is shown to the media in Mexico City on 20 March 09
Sigifredo Najera is also known as 'el Canicon' - or the Big Marble

Mexico's president has announced the arrest of an alleged senior drug cartel member accused of a grenade attack on the US consulate in Monterrey.

Sigifrido Najera, the latest high-profile arrest in the space of a few days, is also accused of torturing and killing Mexican soldiers.

Mr Najera was captured by the army in the northern city of Saltillo.

The Mexican government has launched an all-out assault on drug gangs which operate throughout the country.

Spiralling violence

Sigifrido Najera is allegedly a senior hitman working for the Gulf cartel - one of the main organisations currently battling for control of trafficking routes near the US border.

Among the crimes he is suspected of committing are a drive-by gun and grenade attack on the US consulate in Monterrey in October 2008, a similar assault on a TV station, and the torture and killing of several soldiers.

President Felipe Calderon says his arrest was thanks to the bravery of the Mexican army.

Two days ago, the army also played a key part in the capture of another alleged senior drug cartel figure. Vicente Zambada, linked to the rival Sinaloa cartel, was picked up in Mexico City.

Both arrests come days before US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is due to visit Mexico, with security issues high on her agenda.

President Calderon's controversial move to launch an all-out assault on drug gangs, using tens of thousands of troops, has led to an unprecedented spiral of violence between warring cartels and the army.

The Mexican government's message is that the violence is a price that must be paid for the future security of the entire country, and that it can win the war.

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