Mexican police and military forces on Sunday (August 2) arrested the leader of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel who spread violence through north-central Mexico and fought a years-long turf battle with the Jalisco cartel.
The armed forces and officials in the state of Guanajuato said they had captured José Antonio Yépez Ortiz, better known by his nickname "El Marro," which means "The Sledgehammer."
Yépez Ortiz was unusual among gang leaders because he posted videos with emotional calls to his followers, including one in June showing him appearing to cry after several of his supporters and relatives were arrested. In another video around the same time, he threatened to join forces with the Sinaloa Cartel to defeat Jalisco, Mexico's fastest-rising drug cartel.
The turf battle with Jalisco turned the industrial hub of Guanajuato, with its foreign auto plants and parts suppliers, into the most violent state in Mexico, with 2,293 murders in the first six months of this year. The Santa Rosa gang has been blamed by some observers for the July attack on a drug rehabilitation center in the city of Irapuato in which 27 men were killed.
But Mexico's top civilian security official, Alfonso Durazo, said Yépez Ortiz would be charged with organized crime and fuel theft, not murder.
Yépez Ortiz had been the subject of massive manhunts for years and was caught along with five other suspects, allegedly holding a kidnapped businesswoman. He was among Mexico's most wanted suspects, trailing Jalisco cartel leader Nemesio "El Mencho" Oseguera and Sinaloa cartel leader Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada.
In his Sunday message through social networks, the President of Mexico, López Obrador, reported that it was thanks to the Ministry of National Defense together, with the support of the Guanajuato state government, that this arrest was achieved early this Sunday morning.
"Today at dawn José Antonio Yépez Ortiz was arrested, in the morning they informed me about 6 in the morning, in a house where I had a kidnapped person," said López Obrador.
"And finally, this recent case, today at dawn Antonio Yépez Ortiz, the head of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel, was arrested in Guanajuato, today, in the morning, at around 6 in the morning, they informed me that they had detained a house where he had a kidnapped person. How did this Cartel grow so much, to the point that Guanajuato became the most violent state in the country, it has 15% of the homicides that are committed in the country, of each 100 homicides are committed in Guanajuato "