Mario Cardenas Guillen was reportedly arrested Monday, a spokesperson for the marines said. He is the brother of Osiel, one-time leader of the Gulf Cartel and currently in prison in the US, and Antonio, alias "Tony Tormenta," killed in a shoot-out with marines in 2010. Mario reportedly assumed control of the organization after Tony Tormenta's death, alongside Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sanchez, alias "El Coss."
Mario Cardenas already served a prison sentence in Mexico between 1995 and 2007, during which he helped run the family criminal business from behind bars. While serving time at the Cereso II prison in Matamoros, Cardenas was famous for running drugs and organizing gambling rings for horse races and cockfights, as El Universal highlighted in an article published in 2005.
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Cardenas' arrest could raise further questions about El Coss' ability to continue running the Gulf Cartel as a coherent organization. The group already suffered one major split shortly after Osiel's extradition to the US in 2007, when armed wing the Zetas broke off and became an independent criminal group.
Since then, the Gulf Cartel has seen rival factions battle for control of the Reynosa and Matamoros plazas. But El Coss himself reportedly still enjoys high-level contacts with the military, offering him some protection from arrest, as InSight Crime has previously reported.