Authorities in Mexico have captured a man described as the second in command of the Beltran Leyva Organization, signaling the government’s continued pursuit of cartel decapitation and undermining rumors the administration favors the BLO.
Arnoldo Villa Sanchez was captured on April 16 in Mexico City’s upscale Condesa neighborhood after an investigation revealed he would be visiting the capital during Holy Week, reported the LA Times. He reportedly resisted arrest, though no shots were fired during the operation.
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Villa was one of the main distributors of drugs in the capital’s Federal District (DF), as well as wielding influence in four other states, reported Excelsior.
According to the US Treasury Department, which added him to its “Kingpin List” in November 2013, Villa was the head of security for cartel chief Hector Beltran Leyva (see chart below). El Universal reported he maintained a façade as a successful businessman to hide his drug trafficking activities and was a key shareholder of a cartel-tied private security company based in the state of Jalisco.
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The capture of Villa serves as yet another reminder that, while the rhetoric of current President Enrique Peña Nieto may be a departure from his predecessor Felipe Calderon, he has retained the cartel decapitation policy pursued by the previous administration.
Numerous powerful drug lords have fallen since Peña Nieto’s arrival in 2012, including Sinaloa Cartel chief Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, Zetas leader Miguel Angel Treviño, alias “Z40” and Gulf Cartel boss Mario Ramirez Treviño, alias “X20.”
The arrest also discredits the theory that Peña Nieto may favor the BLO — an accusation that has lingered around him since his time as governor of the State of Mexico, where the group has traditionally wielded significant influence. It may also curb talk of a revival of the organization, though leader Hector Beltran Leyva remains at large.
Villa’s arrest also dents the credibility of official claims that Mexico’s main drug cartels have no major presence in the capital, as if police reports are correct, it would mean a violent, high level cartel boss oversaw drug distribution in the city.