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Arrest in Mexico Drug Cartel Case

May 5, 2000

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Dozens of police and soldiers arrested a man described as the ``second-in-command″ of the violent Arellano-Felix drug cartel after a shootout in Baja California, prosecutors said Thursday.

The arrest Wednesday of Ismael Higuera Guerrero marks the beginning of the end for the Tijuana-based drug gang, Mexico’s top anti-drug prosecutor, Mariano Herran Salvatti, said at a news conference.

``This criminal organization has been put on the run. We are dismantling them″ Herran Salvatti said.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration called the arrest ``a major victory for both Mexican and U.S. law enforcement,″ and called Higuera Guerrero ``the most visible member″ of the gang, after brothers Ramon and Benjamin Arellano Felix dropped out of sight to avoid arrest.

Police arrested Higuera Guerrero, his 15-year-old son, five other men and two Colombian women based on a tip they received from an anonymous caller.

Dozens of soldiers and federal police agents went to the house on a highway between Tijuana and Ensenada where they were told the drug lord was hiding.

When they got there, they were greeted by gunfire from the house. Surrounded, Higuera Guerrero and the other occupants later surrendered.

Higuera Guerrero was immediately booked on charges of homicide in the 1993 killing of a police commander who had tried to arrest him, and for drug trafficking. Prosecutors are weighing additional charges of attempting to bribe police officers.

He was transferred to the maximum security Almoloya prison just west of Mexico City. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

Mexican prosecutors have said that the Arellano Felix brothers frequently operated in the United States as well as Mexico, and all four vehicles seized in Thursday’s raid had California license plates.

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