Tue, Oct 14, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Mexico nabs major drug cartel’s money man with US help

RECKONING Gunmen also killed six young men at a family party in the gang-plagued border city of Ciudad Juarez, officials said

AP AND AFP, MEXICO CITY, MONTERREY AND CIUDAD JUAREZ , MEXICO

A suspected finance officer for the feared Gulf Cartel, one of Mexico’s main drug trafficking syndicates, has been captured in a joint operation with the US, Mexican justice officials announced on Sunday.

The “financier” Wenceslao Alvarez was arrested on Wednesday along with four other suspects when they accompanied a soccer team belonging to the cartel to a game in Mexico City.

The officials said the suspects’ whereabouts were determined through information exchanges with the US, with whom Mexico collaborates in international anti-drug operations.

Alvarez is suspected of “controlling the purchase, reception, transport and distribution of marijuana and cocaine destined for the US ... and has been linked for some time to the criminal Gulf Cartel organization,” the chief prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

Alvarez is also suspected of handling money laundering operations for the Gulf Cartel and La Familia, another drug cartel in eastern Michoacan state.

The US Drug Enforcement Administration on Sept. 16 seized US$7.6 million in assets belonging to Alvarez in Atlanta, Georgia, as part of the joint “Operation Project Reckoning” with Mexican authorities, the statement said.

Meanwhile, a federal official says assailants opened fire on the US consulate in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey.

A spokeswoman for Mexico’s Attorney General’s office who is not authorized to give her name says shell casings were found outside the consulate. But there are no witnesses and no one is in custody.

Mexican media report that one man opened fire on the consulate and another man threw a grenade that failed to explode. El Universal newspaper, citing a US embassy statement, reports the attack happened before dawn on Sunday.

Embassy officials could not be reached for comment early yesterday

Also, gunmen killed six young men at a family party in the gang-plagued Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, prosecutors said on Sunday.

The men, ages 20 to 25, were killed during a party in a house, said Alejandro Pariente, a spokesman for the regional attorney general’s office. The motive for the attack was unknown.

At least 1,000 people have been killed this year in Ciudad Juarez, a city across from El Paso, Texas. Many of the deaths were attributed to warring drug gangs.

In Tijuana, across the border from San Diego, federal police announced the arrest of seven reputed members of a cell of the Arellano Felix drug cartel, including a city police officer.

The officers seized 21 assault rifles, 4,000 rounds of ammunition and body armor in the raid.

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