The hunt for elusive drug cartel leader Joaquin Guzman, known as El Chapo, got a shot in the arm Tuesday with the arrest of infamous meth producer Jaime Herrera in Mexico's Pacific coast state of Sinaloa.
Herrera's arrest will open trails to one of Mexico's most wanted men, Guzman, who is believed to be hiding in an area close to the mountains from where he was arrested, Reuters reported. It is widely believed that Guzman's cartel is producing methamphetamine, or ice, on a large scale. U.S. and Mexican authorities have a great deal of evidence that Herrera is one of the high-profile operators of Guzman.
The 43-year-old meth man, known as El Viejito or the 'the old man,' was arrested with an alleged accomplice, a load of guns, drugs and radios.
Herrera is part of a family that historically smuggled heroin and other drugs to the United States from northeastern Mexico.
According to the Mexican federal police, Herrera led a cartel that smuggled tons of methamphetamine into the Los Angeles area in the U.S. over the past decade.
Mexican police said the arrest of Herrera was a decisive blow to the drug cartels, whose violent resistance against the government crackdown has caused the death of about 47,000 people over the past six years.
It is a powerful blow because Jaime Herrera was one of the main producers of methamphetamine, or ice. With the monthly production he had, he was a strong generator of money for the organisation, the Federal Police anti-drug chief said, the Global Post reported.
According to the Associated Press, Mexican police claimed that Herrera admitted to smuggling tons of methamphetamine from Sinaloa to be sold in Los Angeles.
Guzman, the dreaded drug lord who made out from prison and has been elusive since 2001, carries a reward of $5 million on his head. The Sinaloa cartel controls much of the flow of cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamines into the US via air, land and sea, and is believed to have links in as many as 50 countries, a BBC report said in January.
The Mexican government has stepped up efforts to nab Guzman, who famously escaped from a maximum-security prison in a laundry bag in 2001. A number of his close aides and operatives have been arrested in recent months.
The United States has high stakes in the hunt for Guzman, and is liberally assisting the Mexicans on his trail, by deploying top surveillance and eavesdropping equipment like unmanned drones that scan the mountains where he is believed to be hiding.