The recently captured leader of the Jalisco New Generation drug gang had been locked in a fight with the brutal Zetas drug cartel and other gangs since 2010, authorities said Monday.
Army spokesman Gen. Ricardo Trevilla said Erick Valencia Salazar tried to expand his gang's control by sending cells to states near his home base of Jalisco in western Mexico.
Valencia's gunmen dumped 35 bodies of alleged Zetas members last year in a busy avenue in the city of Veracruz during rush hour, Trevilla said.
Valencia was a lieutenant for drug capo Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel, who was killed in a clash with soldiers in 2010 in Zapopan, a suburb of Guadalajara. After the death of Coronel, an ally of the powerful Sinaloa cartel, Valencia formed the Jalisco New Generation drug gang and began a fight with the Zetas and other gangs for control of western Mexico, Trevilla said.
Authorities say New Generation is an ally of Mexico's most wanted drug lord, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel.
Soldiers arrested Valencia Friday and two of his lieutenants at a home in Zapopan.
Following his arrest, members of his gang set 25 city buses and other vehicles on fire and blocked roads in Zapopan and throughout Guadalajara, spreading fear in Mexico's second-largest city.
Guadalajara has become a new front in the war between the country's two main drug cartels, Guzman's Sinaloa gang and the Zetas.
In November the bodies of 26 young men were found stuffed in two vans and a pickup truck abandoned on an expressway in the city, an attack officials have attributed to the Zetas in retaliation for the killings in Veracruz two months earlier.