The reputed mastermind of Mexico's vast drug pipeline to the United States was in ustody Monday after a huge sweep that included the arrest of his hometown's entire police force, authorities said.
Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, thought to head a ring that shipped up to two tons of cocaine monthly into the United States, had been sought for years but was protected by corrupt Mexican officials, according to U.S. drug agents.Authorities believe Felix Gallardo may have been involved in the 1985 slaying of U.S. drug agent Enrique Camarena Salazar.
Felix Gallardo was arrested Saturday night in Guadalajara.
"It was clean work, without a single gunshot," said Rene Hernandez, a spokesman for the federal attorney general. He said the reputed drug lord was flown to Mexico City and was being questioned at a heavily guarded compound.
In a statement, the attorney general's office said the raid by Federal Judicial Police agents was the result of President Carlos Salinas de Gortari's vow to clean up drug dealing and corruption in Mexico.
U.S. authorities welcomed the news of Felix Gallardo's arrest.
While Felix Gallardo was being seized in the western state of Jalisco, Mexican army troops were used to swoop down on his hometown of Culiacan, the capital of the northwestern state of Sinaloa, and arrested every police officer. All but six of about 80 officers were released, but those still held included the police chief and the chief of the Sinaloa state police, a federal official said. Culiacan is a city of 1.3 million people.
"We regret that people who have a responsibility to society have become involved in these events," said Sinaloa Gov. Francisco Labastida Ochoa.
Felix Gallardo, 43, was thought to run one of the largest cocaine trafficking operations in the world.
He was known as the godfather and czar of Mexico's drug trade because he reputedly pioneered an alliance with Colombian drug lords of the notorious Medellin cartel to move cocaine through Mexico to the United States.