Authorities in Mexico have arrested a man they claim is a leader and founder of the Gulf Cartel, signaling another blow to a group that has already been weakened by infighting and arrests, and raising questions about what the group's current leadership structure looks like.
Mexican national police captured Javier Garza Medrano in the town of Taxco, in the southwest Pacific state of Guerrero, along with five other suspected members of the cartel, reported Proceso.
According to the National Security Commission (CSN) and intelligence reports, Medrano is one of the leaders of the Gulf Cartel and is responsible for coordinating drug shipments to the United States, in addition to distributing drugs in Mexico City and Tamaulipas.
He is also thought to lead cells operating in Guerrero involved in kidnapping and extortion, and to be involved in the theft of oil from the company Pemex, reported El Universal.
The 36-year-old alleged drug cartel leader was formerly a municipal policeman in Tamaulipas.
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Aside from news of his capture, there is little additional information available on Medrano from reliable sources. The Facebook news site Valor por Tamaulipas refers to him as alias "K14" and identifies him as the person responsible for the massacre of 30 people in the state in 2012. The website "Los Narco Empresarios" (the Narco Businessmen) says Medrano ran a company with an important Tamaulipas businessman and maintained ties with area police, attributing this information to the Attorney General's Office's organized crime division (SEIDO).
The signaling of Medrano as a key leader of the cartel serves, more than anything, to highlight the current confusion over the organization's leadership, which has no high profile figurehead. His labeling as a "founder," meanwhile, is odd, given that the Gulf Cartel's roots go back to 1984, when Medrano would have been a young child.
SEE ALSO: Gulf Cartel News and Profile
The Gulf Cartel has suffered a number of blows to its top leadership in recent years, beginning with the extradition of founder Osiel Cardenas Guillen in 2007 and culminating in the capture of top leader Mario Ramirez Treviño, alias "X20," in August 2013. The cartel has also fallen victim to internal divisions, with rival factions bitterly fighting for control, and was in a state of internal chaos even before the X20 arrest.
Following X20's arrest, rumors began to circle about who would assume his position, but no clear leader has emerged, and the level of influence the battered cartel continues to have inside or outside of Tamaulipas, its home turf, remains unclear.