Latin America & Caribbean

'Sinaloa cartel enforcer' Marrufo arrested in Mexico

Jose Antonio Torres Marrufo at a news conference in Mexico City on 4 February 2012
Image caption Federal police paraded Jose Antonio Torres Marrufo before the media

Police in Mexico say they have arrested the suspected leader of the Gente Nueva gang, the armed wing of the Sinaloa drug cartel.

Prosecutors suspect Jose Antonio Torres Marrufo of ordering the 2009 attack on a drug treatment clinic in Ciudad Juarez in which 18 people were killed.

The patients were lined up against a wall and shot dead.

Police said the gunmen were targeting rival gang members which sometimes use clinics as safe houses.

'Severe blow'

Mr Torres Marrufo was arrested in Leon, in central Guanajuato state, along with his bodyguard.

Police seized weapons and crystal meth they said belonged to the two men.

Counter-narcotics Police Chief Ramon Eduardo Pequeno said Mr Torres Marrufo's capture was a severe blow to the Sinaloa cartel.

The cartel, which is led by Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, is one of Mexico's most powerful.

Prosecutors say Mr Torres Marrufo led its armed wing, called Gente Nueva (New People).

They accuse him of drug trafficking, kidnapping, extortion, and murder.

Gang warfare

Among the crimes he is suspected of ordering is the 2009 attack on a drug rehabilitation clinic in Ciudad Juarez.

Hooded gunmen burst into the drug clinic, forced patients into a corridor, lined them up and shot 18 of them.

Security officials said at the time that drug cartels were using the clinics to recruit new members and as safe houses.

They said they suspected the attack had been a settling of scores between rival gangs.

Mr Marrufo Torres is suspected of having been in charge of eliminating rival gang members in the Sinaloa cartel's fight to take over control of Ciudad Juarez from the Juarez cartel.

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