Drug gang had private zoo

Police have smashed a major drugs ring in Mexico City seizing weapons, vehicles - and lions.

Eleven Colombians, a US citizen, two Mexicans and an Uruguayan were detained during a raid on a sprawling mansion on Saturday, prosecutor Marisela Morales told a news conference.

The property, with walls, ceilings and furniture made almost entirely of ornately carved wood, was used by the traffickers for night time parties.

Those who received invitations were picked up at nearby shopping-centre parking lots in vehicles with blacked-out windows to prevent them from seeing where they were going.

The mansion was equipped with a private zoo housing a collection of animals including two tigers and two lions.

Police turned the exotic animals over to prosecutors. It was unclear what they planned to do with them.

Morales identified the gang's leader as Teodoro Fino Restrepo, who allegedly arranged for sea-borne cocaine shipments from Colombia to Mexico's Beltran Leyva cartel.

Also detained in the police raid was US citizen Raul Munoz Montalvo, of Texas. Police did not release the name of his hometown and no one from the US Embassy in Mexico was available to comment.

All the suspects are being held on suspicion of drug trafficking, money laundering and organised-crime activities, Morales said.

Nine Mexicans working as waiters and DJs were briefly held and released.

Authorities had been investigating the group since 2005, the prosecutor said.

"This is important, because it breaks a logistic link in the chain that supplies Mexican cartels with cocaine," she said.


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