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Mexico reports arrest of major drug suspect

MEXICO CITY – Mexico has detained one of its most wanted drug suspects, Vicente Carrillo Leyva, who allegedly was the second in command of the powerful Juarez cartel, the federal Attorney General’s Office said Thursday.

The announcement came hours before the Obama administration’s top security officials and their Mexican counterparts were set to discuss ways to stop arms smuggling across the border as well as new strategies for fighting the drug cartels that have fueled violence in both countries.

Federal police said Carrillo Leyva, 32, was caught while he was exercising in a park in a posh Mexico City neighborhood early Wednesday.

Carrillo Leyva is the son of drug kingpin Amado Carrillo Fuentes, who was one of Mexico’s most important drug traffickers before he died during plastic surgery to change his appearance in 1997.

Amado Carrillo Fuentes was nicknamed “the Lord of the Skies” because of his success in sending planeloads of cocaine to the United States.

After his death, Amado’s brother Vicente took over the cartel and Amado’s son, Vicente Carrillo Leyva became second-in-command, the Attorney General’s Office said.

Officials displayed Carrillo Leyva to the press at a news conference early Thursday, bringing a young man in glasses and a track suit before flashing cameras.

A week ago, the Attorney General’s Office named Carrillo Leyva to a list of 24 of the country’s most-wanted narcotics suspects and offered a reward of 30 million pesos ($2.1 million) for his capture. The same amount was offered for the capture of the cartel’s alleged leader.

Vicente Carrillo Leyva acknowledged to authorities that he was the son of Amado Carrillo Fuentes, said Marisela Morales, who is in charge of combatting organized crime at the Attorney General’s Office.

“Carrillo Leyva is considered one of the heirs of the Juarez Cartel after the death of his father,” she said.

Vicente Carrillo Leyva used an alias, Alejandro Peralta Alvarez, and was passing himself off as a businessman, said Federal Police Commissioner Rodrigo Esparza. But authorities were able to track him down through his wife, who did not change her name. The government had records showing her sister was married to Rodolfo Carrillo Fuentes, a brother of the cartel leader.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder were to meet Thursday with Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina-Mora and Interior Minister Fernando Gomez-Mont in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

Soldiers last week arrested another figure on the most-wanted list, Hector Huerta, who was accused of controlling the flow of drugs through the northern city of Monterrey for the powerful Beltran-Leyva cartel.

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