Authorities capture Hector Beltran Leyva inside a seafood restaurant
He became a cartel chief after Mexican marines killed his brother
Officials say he was living a discrete, low-profile life to avoid detection
Authorities had offered millions of dollars for information leading to his capture
Troops closed in on one of Mexico’s most wanted drug lords Wednesday, nabbing him at a seafood restaurant in a popular tourist destination.
Members of the Mexican Army didn’t fire a single shot when they captured Hector Beltran Leyva in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, officials said.
His arrest came after 11 months of investigation as intelligence officials traced his path, Tomas Zeron de Lucio, the director of criminal investigation for Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office, told reporters.
Mexican authorities were offering a reward of more than $2 million for information leading to his capture. And the U.S. State Department’s Narcotics Rewards Program had been offering a reward of up to $5 million.
Beltran Leyva, who led a cartel by the same name, had been living a discreet, low-profile life in Mexico’s Queretaro state, ditching fancy cars and other trappings of luxury to appear as a simple businessman, Zeron said.
But in reality, Zeron said, Beltran Leyva was “one of the main leaders of drug trafficking in Mexico” and headed “a large network of corruption and money laundering.”
He rose to power after Mexican marines killed his brother in a 2009 raid that the head of the DEA described as a “crippling blow to one of the most violent cartels in the world.”
Nicknames for the kingpin included “The Engineer” and “The H.”
According to security experts, the cartel had regrouped after the dramatic 2009 operation and developed alliances with the Zetas and the Juarez Cartel.
The State Department has said the cartel was responsible for transporting weapons and ammunition to Mexico from the United States, and trafficking in cocaine, marijuana, heroin and methamphetamine.
CNN en Español’s Krupskaia Alis and CNNMexico.com contributed to this report.