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CrimeGlobal issues

Mexico: Drug gang leader 'El Marro' captured

August 2, 2020

Mexican police and military say they have detained the head of the drug gang Santa Rosa de Lima. Jose Antonio Yepez Ortiz is blamed for fueling violence in Guanajuato state with a turf battle against another cartel.

Mexican police officers stand next to their police trucks
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/El Universal

Jose Antonio Yepez Ortiz, a notorious drug gang leader who was the subject of yearslong manhunts, has been captured and put under arrest, Mexican police and army officials said on Sunday.

Yepez Ortiz, better known as "El Marro" or "The Mallet," is blamed for the spread of violence through north-central Mexico as his gang fought with the Jalisco cartel for control of the state of Guanajuato.

His arrest should boost the government of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who vowed to reduce record levels of violence in the country when he came to power at the end of 2018 but has so far made little headway.

The attorney general's office in Guanajuato said Yepez Ortiz was captured with five other people in an operation during which a kidnapped local businesswoman was also rescued.

Read more: Mexico: Jalisco cartel blamed for attack on police chief

Fuel theft

The Santa Rosa de Lima gang was initially notorious for stealing fuel from government pipelines and refineries in Guanajuato, a hub of Mexico's carmaking industry.

But the gang's growing and bloody struggle with the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), one of the country's most powerful groups, has since turned the once relatively safe state into the most violent in the country.

The gang tried at first to establish a local support network by giving residents a share in the spoils of its robberies. But it turned to extortion and kidnapping after pipelines and trains were put under better guard.

tj/mm (AP, Reuters)