Police in the northern state of Chihuahua detained Mario Nunez, aged 39, also known as “M-10”, in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, said federal security spokesman Eduardo Sanchez.
Nunez, a former police officer, began working with the Juarez Cartel before joining the rival Sinaloa group allegedly led by Mexico’s most-wanted man, Joaquin Guzman.
The government partially blames Nunez for an upsurge in drug violence that brought shoot-outs in broad daylight, ambushes of police, and kidnappings to Ciudad Juarez, which is across from El Paso, Texas.
US court documents say Guzman hired Nunez and gave him the job of snatching the smuggling corridors into the US from the Juarez Cartel, through ordering gangs of hitmen to carry out killings that included grisly mutilations and decapitations.
The Juarez Cartel lost ground to the Sinaloa organisation in a three- year battle that wound down in 2011. But Nunez’s criminal career continued, authorities say.
The Mexican government claims Nunez’s power struggle with another drug chieftain in the spring of 2011 resulted in the murder of 350 people.
Nunez is wanted in the US on drug-trafficking charges. The Mexican government said he could face up to 40 years in prison in Mexico. It was not immediately clear if there was a US extradition request for him.
Mario Nunez Meza was captured by Mexican police. He is wanted in the US for drug trafficking. He is an ex cop who joined the drug cartel— Eye On The Border (@EyeOnBorder) August 29, 2013
Mexican police have captured alleged drug dealer Mario Nunez, accused in the murders of 350 people found in mass graves in 2011.— Dan Lewis (@DanLewisNews) August 29, 2013