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Mexico captures another alleged drug kingpin

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Alleged Mexican drug lord captured
  • NEW: Two suspected accomplices were also arrested, an official says
  • Sergio Villarreal has appeared on a list of Mexico's most wanted
  • He is an alleged leader of the powerful Beltran Leyva drug cartel
  • His capture follows the August arrest of "La Barbie," who was said to belong to the same group

(CNN) -- Mexican marines have captured an alleged top leader of the Beltran Leyva cartel, handing authorities a major victory in their fight against powerful drug organizations, the government said Sunday.

Sergio Villarreal, who is known to Mexican officials as "El Grande," was taken in the central Mexican state of Puebla, Alejandro Poire, a spokesman for Mexico's president on security issues, told reporters. Villarreal has appeared on the attorney general's list of Mexico's most wanted and had a bounty of more than $2 million on his head.

He offered no resistance when he was arrested mid-afternoon, along with two suspected accomplices, said Poire. He added authorities also recovered weapons and armed vehicles in the operation.

"This afternoon, the federal government ... dealt another blow to the criminal organizations that threaten Mexicans' security," Poire said.

Villarreal's capture comes soon after the August arrest of American-born "La Barbie," or Edgar Valdez, believed to be one of Mexico's most ruthless drug traffickers. Valdez is similarly thought to have belonged to the Beltran Leyva cartel.

The former leader of that group, Arturo Beltran Leyva, was killed in a shootout with Mexican officials last year. Beltran's brother Carlos was later arrested, creating what authorities said was a vacuum and power struggle in one of Mexico's strongest cartels.

More than 28,000 people have died in drug-related violence since Mexican President Felipe Calderon intensified the government's fight against cartels and organized crime after taking office in 2006, according to government figures.