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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkNews Around the Republic of Mexico 

Mexico Touts Capture of Major Seaborne Cocaine Smuggler
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January 09, 2011

Mexico City – Mexican soldiers captured a man suspected of being a major seaborne cocaine trafficker and key collaborator of the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel, officials said.

Felipe Zurita Cruz was detained late last week in the western port of Mazatlan, Sinaloa state, “after two years of naval intelligence work” and a month of surveillance, the Navy Secretariat said in a statement.

Zurita Cruz “was considered one of the main organizers of the seaborne drug-trafficking network,” the secretariat said.

The suspect is accused in connection with three cocaine shipments weighing a total of 14 tons that were seized in the Mexican Pacific in September 2008 and February 2009.

Zurita Cruz, who was taken to Mexico City and turned over to prosecutors, also is suspected of ties to Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman.

The Sinaloa organization, sometimes referred to by officials as the Pacific cartel, is the oldest drug cartel in Mexico and Guzman, considered extremely violent, is one of the most-wanted criminals in Mexico and the United States, where the Drug Enforcement Administration has offered a reward of $5 million for him.

Sinaloa, the birthplace of many of Mexico’s drug lords, is currently the scene of a bloody turf war between Guzman and the Beltran Leyva cartel, which arose as a splinter group of the Sinaloa mob.

Those and other criminal gangs are responsible in large part for violence that has claimed more than 30,000 lives nationwide since President Felipe Calderon militarized the struggle against the cartels shortly after taking office just over four years ago.

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