Authorities in Mexico have captured one of the top leaders of the Jalisco Cartel - New Generation, a significant blow to an influential criminal organization that has suspected links to Michoacan vigilante groups.
Ruben Oseguera Gonzalez, alias "El Menchito," was among five people captured in a large-scale military operation by federal forces in the city of Guadalajara on Thursday, reported Al Jazeera.
Oseguera, son of Jalisco Cartel - New Generation (CJNG) leader Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, was believed to act as the group's second-in-command, overseeing its finances, links with South American criminal groups and ordering executions of enemies, reported El Universal.
Despite the major operation launched by federal authorities, Jalisco state authorities had issued no capture orders or charges against him, announced federal prosecutor Luis Carlos Najera Gutierrez de Velasco in a press conference.
Meanwhile, Mexico's Attorney General announced that it had evidence of CJNG supplying weapons to citizens' self-defense groups, and was opening an investigation, reported Milenio.
InSight Crime Analysis
Though one of Mexico's smaller cartels, CJNG is a significant and influential presence in the criminal landscape. Its battles with principal rivals the Zetas and the Knights Templar have led to extremely high levels of violence in Jalisco and other states along Mexico's Pacific coast and the group was linked to the discovery of several mass graves late last year.
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The group has expanded quickly, aided by its alliance with the Sinaloa Cartel -- El Menchito was believed to have been an ally of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman." Like the Knights Templar it has presented itself as a political force, with its "Mata Zetas," or Zeta Killers, offshoot purporting to be a "paramilitary arm of the people" in 2011, and last year with the hanging of banners announcing the "cleansing" of the central state of Guanajuato.
It is also thought to have helped set up some of the new wave of citizen self-defense groups. Defense officials claimed last March that vigilante groups operating in West Mexico had been armed by CJNG, one of a number of murky allegations that have swirled around the growth of the self-defense movement. The Prosecutor General's investigation announced today has the potential to seriously damage the credibility of that movement, soon after large swathes of it have been "legalized" by the Mexican government.