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Top cocaine smuggler nabbed, Mexico says

  • Story Highlights
  • Officials: Alfredo Beltran Leyva, part of Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel, arrested
  • Three members of Leyva's security detail also arrested, authorities say
  • They were found with weapons and suitcases filled with $900,000 in cash
  • Leyva is a top lieutenant to smuggler who U.S. says shipped tons of cocaine
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MEXICO CITY, Mexico (CNN) -- An alleged top cocaine smuggler has been captured, Mexican authorities said Monday.

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Mexican federal police officers escort Alfredo Beltran Leyva, an alleged cocaine smuggler, on Monday.

The Mexican attorney general's office said one of northern Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel's top lieutenants, Alfredo Beltran Leyva, and three members of his security detail had been arrested.

Authorities contend Beltran Leyva directed the transport of drugs in several northern Mexican states, laundered drug money and even directed a team of assassins for the cartel.

The men were found with several weapons, two suitcases filled with $900,000 in cash, and luxury watches, the attorney general's office told CNN. The Mexican government did not announce when Leyva and the others were captured.

Mexican and U.S. officials say Beltran Leyva is a top lieutenant of Joaquin Guzman-Loera, the head of the Sinoloa cartel. Guzman-Loera is wanted by the U.S. State Department for smuggling multi-ton shipments of cocaine from Colombia, through Mexico and into the United States.

"Today was a significant victory for Mexican Armed Forces," said Tony Garza, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico. "This arrest demonstrates once again the ongoing commitment of President [Felipe] Calderon and his administration to hit the criminal organizations where it hurts."

Beltran Leyva and the others had been transported Monday to Mexico City, where they were in the custody of Mexican federal authorities. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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