MEXICO CITY – Jesus Salas Aguayo, suspected of being the top leader of Mexico’s Juarez drug cartel, has been captured, National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido said on Sunday.
Salas, one of the most-wanted men in Mexico, has been “linked to several of the cruelest incidents” that have occurred in the northern state of Chihuahua, Rubido said.
Army troops, Attorney General’s Office agents and Federal Police officers arrested Salas on Friday, the national security commissioner said.
“The now-prisoner is 38 years old and originally from the city of Ahumada. He is considered the one responsible for the criminal organization’s drug smuggling, murder, kidnapping, fuel theft and arms trafficking operations,” Rubido said.
Salas was one of the 122 priority targets identified by the federal government, Rubido said, adding that 93 kingpins on the list have now been “neutralized.”
Investigators presume that Salas took over the leadership of the Juarez cartel following the arrests of Vicente Carrillo Fuentes in October 2014 and David Aaron Espinosa in January of this year, Rubido said.
Salas is suspected of being behind the violence in the Juarez Valley and the mountains of southwestern Chihuahua.
The latter area is known as the “Golden Triangle” and straddles Chihuahua, Durango and Sinaloa states.
Salas ordered kidnappings and hits targeting members of rival gangs, Rubido said.
“The criminal organization he served originated in Ciudad Juarez, once one of the most violent cities in the world, a situation that regrettably resulted in hundreds of deaths,” the national security commissioner said.
The Juarez cartel was founded in 1993 by Amado Carrillo Fuentes, who was known as the “Lord of the Skies” for his fleet of aircraft.
Amado’s brother, Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, and his son, Vicente Carrillo Leyva, who was arrested in April 2009, took control of the cartel following the drug lord’s 1997 death after undergoing plastic surgery to disguise his identity.
The Juarez cartel, one of Mexico’s most violent criminal organizations, has been waging a war against the Sinaloa cartel that has left thousands of people dead in the past few years.
The cartel smuggles drugs and engages in other criminal activities from its base in Ciudad Juarez, located across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.