Mexican authorities have arrested Francisco Javier Hernandez Garcia, the alleged leader of the once-powerful Beltrán-Leyva drug cartel. He has been charged with drug trafficking in five Mexican states, Agence France-Presse reported Monday.
Mexican authorities said Hernandez Garcia, 47, allegedly took over the operations of the cartel after Hector "the H" Beltran Leyva — one of the five brothers who founded the cartel — was arrested in 2014. He was taken into custody Saturday in a vehicle with suspected drugs and four guns.
He allegedly rose through the ranks of the cartel from the status of a bodyguard for the Beltrán-Leyva family in the 1990s. He came to the leader of the gang after Mexican authorities dismantled the leadership of the gang, which was once one of Mexico’s most powerful cartels.
The cartel’s power, which grew in the 2000s, fell sharply in 2009 when leader Arturo Beltrán Leyva was killed by authorities. The Beltrán-Leyva Cartel started as an offshoot to the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, the leader of which, Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, was arrested in January after escaping prison, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Hernandez Garcia began coordinating drug shipments for the cartel in 2005, the Tucson Sentinel reported. He was also put in charge of coordinating partnerships with local groups in Mexico to fight for drug and human smuggling routes with the Sinaloa and Gulf Cartels.
Both Mexico and the United States have pushed recently to nab alleged high-ranking drug traffickers. Some 24 members of the Sinaloa cartel were arrested in a sting Saturday coordinated by the two countries, the Sentinel reported. Hundreds of pounds of narcotics, as well as assault weapons, were seized in the raid.
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On the black market, narcotics is the biggest earner, netting about $300 billion every year, the Latin Post reported. The illicit drug market in the United States is controlled by about seven Mexican drug cartels, including Beltrán-Leyva, Sinaloa and Juarez.