MEXICO CITY – Mexican army soldiers detained two nephews of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada Garcia, one of the top leaders of the Sinaloa drug cartel, in the northern border city of Tijuana, official sources said.
The suspects were identified as Omar Ismael Zambada and Sergio Rodolfo Cazares Zambada,
The former is the son of Jesus Reynaldo Zambada Garcia, alias “El Rey” (The King), who was extradited to the United States earlier this month, while Cazares is the son of Agueda Zambada Garcia, the oldest sister of Jesus and Ismael.
The sources, who spoke Thursday on condition of anonymity, said the detainees were taken by soldiers to the Mexico City-based Siedo organized crime unit of the federal Attorney General’s Office, where an investigation will be launched into their alleged drug-trafficking and organized crime ties.
Soldiers and municipal police detained the two men as they were driving in Tijuana with 15 kilos (33 pounds) of cocaine in their possession.
The suspects were accompanied by two other individuals who apparently were their bodyguards, the sources added.
Jesus Reynaldo Zambada Garcia – brother of “El Mayo” Zambada, the top associate of Sinaloa cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman – was extradited to the United States on April 4.
The suspect, a 50-year-old native of Culiacan, capital of the northwestern state of Sinaloa, will face trial in the coming months on charges of smuggling 120 tons of cocaine worth some $10 billion into the United States.
According to the sources, the arrest of the Zambada cousins is part of President Felipe Calderon’s offensive against drug-trafficking organizations.
Since taking office in 2006, Calderon has stepped up the fight against drug cartels and other criminal gangs by deploying 45,000 soldiers and 20,000 federal police to drug war flashpoints.
The strategy has led to the killings and arrests of cartel kingpins, but drug-related homicides have increased every year since the military offensive was launched.
A total of 12,903 people were killed in drug-related violence between January and September 2011 in Mexico, an increase of 11 percent with respect to the same period of 2010, bringing the drug war death toll since December 2006 to 47,515, the government said early this year.
But unofficial tallies published in December by independent daily La Jornada put the death toll from Mexico’s drug war at more than 50,000.
At least six large drug-trafficking gangs operate in Mexico, the most powerful of which, according to intelligence agencies, is the Sinaloa mob, whose tentacles extend into several other countries, particularly in North America and Europe.
The cartel is led by “El Chapo” Guzman, who has been on the lam since escaping from a maximum-security prison in 2001 and is listed by Forbes magazine as one of the world’s wealthiest individuals.
U.S. federal authorities this week announced the indictment of “El Chapo” Guzman, “El Mayo” Zambada and 22 other individuals suspected of managing and operating the Sinaloa cartel.
The United States is offering a $5 million reward for information leading to arrest of each of the Sinaloa cartel’s top two leaders. EFE