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Mexico captures 11 alleged hit men from powerful Sinaloa drug cartel
Mexico Drug Lord MO 5559402
Mexican federal police officers escort Alfredo Beltran Leyva, known as "El Mochomo, upon his arrival at the Mexico City's airport, Monday, Jan. 21, 2008. Beltran was allegedly in charge of transporting drugs, bribing officials and laundering money for the Sinaloa drug cartel, led by Mexico's most-wanted alleged drug lord Joaquin Guzman. - photo by Associated Press
    MEXICO CITY — Eleven alleged hit men for the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel were captured Tuesday at two Mexico City mansions stocked with grenades, automatic weapons and body armor — a day after Mexican authorities reported nabbing one of the cartel’s leaders.
    Police said it was the first time they have found a safe house linked to the cartel in the capital city.
    The 11 were captured during two pre-dawn raids in southern Mexico City, said a federal police official at the scene, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press. Eight men were arrested in one of the raids and three in the other.
    The alleged hit men, whose identities were not released, were lined up in the mansions’ spacious living rooms and presented to reporters alongside a cache of seized weapons, including fragmentation grenades, machine guns and materials presumably intended for constructing a drug lab.
    Police also found bulletproof vests, some of which bore the initials FEDA, which the official said was believed to be a Spanish acronym for ‘‘Arturo’s Special Forces.’’
    Arturo Beltran Leyva is one of five brothers believed to be top lieutenants of the Sinaloa drug cartel, based in the northwestern Mexican state of the same name. A second brother, Alfredo Beltran Leyva, was arrested early Monday in the Sinaloa capital of Culiacan with two suitcases containing $900,000, an assault rifle, a luxury SUV and 11 expensive watches, the army said.
    U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza praised Monday’s arrest as ‘‘a significant victory.’’
    ‘‘When Mexico takes dangerous criminals like Beltran Leyva and his crew off the streets, the people of the United States also benefit,’’ Garza wrote in a statement.
    Army Gen. Luis Arturo Oliver Cen said the arrested Beltran commanded two groups of hit men for the cartel, whose reach extends from the northwestern border state of Sonora to the southern state of Oaxaca. He was allegedly in charge of transporting drugs, bribing officials and laundering money for the cartel, which is led by Mexico’s most-wanted drug lord, Joaquin Guzman.
    Guzman escaped from federal prison in 2001 in a laundry cart after bribing guards.
    Beltran Leyva’s arrest follows two weeks of bloody confrontations along the U.S.-Mexico border between federal agents and gunmen suspected of working for the Arellano Felix and Gulf cartels, rivals of the Sinaloa.

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