Latin America & Caribbean

Mexico strikes Sinaloa cartel as Cabrera Sarabria shot

Suspected members of the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico City on 23 January 2012
Image caption Ten of the detained were paraded in front of journalists, another suspect is in hospital.

The Mexican security forces have arrested 11 alleged members of the country's most powerful drug gang, the Sinaloa cartel.

They said those detained worked for Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, the most wanted man in Mexico.

They were arrested during a helicopter raid on a ranch in the north-western state of Durango on Friday.

During the raid, elite troops killed the regional leader of the gang, Luis Alberto Cabrera Sarabia.

The security forces said his death was a severe blow to the Sinaloa cartel's operations in Durango and Chihuahua.

Mr Cabrera Sarabia is accused of having controlled much of the drug trafficking in the two northern states.

Defence spokesman Gen Ricardo Trevilla Trejo said the security forces located the ranch where Mr Cabrera Sarabia was staying last week.

A special operations team moved in on Friday and were fired on, Gen Trevilla Trejo said.

He said that Mr Cabrera Sarabia managed to escape along with his bodyguard, hiding in a cave in a mountainous area near the ranch.

'Family business'

Mr Cabrera Sarabia was killed in a firefight as the special operations team moved in on the cave, the general said.

Three members of the security forces were injured in the operation.

At the ranch, soldiers found more than a dozen long-range weapons and more than 4,000 rounds of ammunition, as well as armoured cars and communication equipment.

Gen Trevilla Trejo said Mr Cabrera Sarabia had been personally chosen to head the Sinaloa cartel's operations in the region by its leader Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman.

He was appointed only last month, after the arrest of the previous regional leader, Luis Alberto Cabrera Sarabia's brother, Felipe.

The Sinaloa cartel controls much of the flow of cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamines into the United States via air, land and sea, and is believed to have links in as many as 50 countries.

Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman was jailed in 1993 but escaped his maximum-security prison in a laundry basket eight years later, embarrassing and eluding the authorities ever since.

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