Two suspected drug kingpins arrested in Mexico

Mexican federal police arrested two suspected gang leaders, delivering another big blow to a brutal drug cartel that terrorised the border city of Tijuana for several years.

The capture of Raydel Lopez Uriarte and Manuel Garcia Simental apparently wipes out the existing leadership of the cartel headed by Teodoro Garcia Simental, who was captured last month. Teodoro and Manuel Garcia are brothers.

Lopez, known as El Muletas, and Garcia, known as El Chiquilin, were arrested in La Paz, a city in the southern end of the Baja California peninsula, said Amy Roderick, a spokeswoman for the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

Mexico's Public Security Department confirmed the arrests in a brief statement, describing Manual Garcia as the gang's leader after his brother's arrest and Lopez as the current second-in-command.

It said the arrests were the result of leads starting with the capture of Teodoro Garcia in La Paz on January 12, but offered no further details on the operations.

Ms Roderick said there were no US indictments pending against the suspects.

The gang was known for its brutality, having executed, beheaded and mutilated hundreds of rivals in Tijuana, which is across the US border from San Diego. Gang members pinned notes to corpses and dissolved bodies in caustic soda.

Tedoro Garcia's arrest netted 19 mobile phones and two laptop computers. Twelve more cartel suspects were arrested in two raids in late January, including two men and a women who were allegedly about to dissolve a body in a bathtub with chemicals.

Manuel Garcia is the youngest of three brothers. The oldest brother, Marco Antonio, was arrested in a shootout with Mexican authorities in Tijuana in 2004.

Teodoro Garcia was once considered a top hit man for Tijuana's dominant drug gang, the family-run Arellano-Felix cartel. He launched a new group affiliated with the Sinaloa cartel after law enforcement arrested or killed most of the Tijuana cartel leaders in 2008.

The splintered organisations have been involved in a violent turf battle in Tijuana, a valuable trafficking corridor to the US

More than 1,500 people have been murdered in Tijuana since the beginning of 2008.

Across the country, more than 15,000 people have died in drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderon launched a crackdown on cartels when he took office three years ago.

More than 2,500 of the killings occurred last year in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas.

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