Military special forces grabbed alleged cartel leader Hector Beltran Leyva during a lightning raid at a restaurant Wednesday, the latest in a string of high-profile drug arrests in the country.
Officials said the purported head of the Beltran Leyva drug gang was captured inside a seafood eatery in the city of San Miguel de Allende, a popular enclave for foreigners and artists in the central state of Guanajuato.
No shots were fired in the brief operation, which culminated an 11-month investigation, federal criminal investigations chief Tomas Zeron said at an evening news conference.
The arrest comes just months after the capture of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the elusive boss of the Sinaloa cartel, which is considered the most powerful drug gang in Mexico. He was caught in February after more than a decade on the run following his escape from prison.
Mexican authorities say Hector Beltran Leyva, 49, assumed leadership of the Beltran Leyva cartel after his brother Arturo was killed by Mexican troops in a shootout in late 2009. Two other brothers are behind bars for their involvement in the cartel.
The gang terrorized parts of central Mexico for years, including Morelos state to the south of Mexico City, although it declined somewhat after the brothers' arrests and killing. Last November, the U.S. Treasury Department said the cartel appeared to be reorganizing and regaining some power.
"Obviously this is not the Beltran Leyvas' organization in its strongest moment ... but it continues to be a criminal organization capable of generating localized violence in some states," Mexican security expert Jorge Chabat said.
Zeron said Beltran Leyva had adopted a "moderate profile" after becoming head of the cartel to avoid detection. The investigation determined he had made his home in the central state of Queretaro, where he passed himself off as a businessman selling art and real estate.