Mexico nabs alleged Zetas local chief, 5 others

AP News
Posted: Oct 26, 2011 11:43 PM
Mexico nabs alleged Zetas local chief, 5 others

The Mexican navy said Wednesday it had arrested the alleged local chief of the Zetas drug cartel in the Gulf coast port of Veracruz, and said he is tied to the dumping of eight bodies in a rural town a week ago.

The navy said Carlos "The Bam Bam" Pitalua and five other men were arrested on Tuesday. One of the five is suspected in helping break 32 inmates out of three Veracruz prisons in a well-planned, simultaneous escape.

A picture released by the navy shows four of the six dressed in military clothing.

One day after the jail break, gunmen dumped 35 bodies on a busy avenue of Veracruz last month. Some of the victims were reported at the time to have been escaped inmates.

And in central Mexico State, outside Mexico City, prosecutors announced Wednesday they had arrested Adrian Ramirez, alias "The Mushroom," the alleged leader of the Cartel del Centro.

The gang is believed to be one of the spin-off groups from the Beltran Leyva cartel, which has been decimated by the arrests or deaths of its leaders.

Mexico state Attorney General Alfredo Castillo said the Cartel del Centro has been linked to at least 26 killings, and operated mainly in Mexico City suburbs.

The suspects were arrested last week, Castillo said.

And the Mexican army said it had detained two more suspects in a casino fire that killed 52 people in the northern city of Monterrey.

Gunmen entered the casino, spread gasoline and set the building on fire, trapping and asphyxiating dozens. Officials say the motive was extortion of the casino owners.

The Defense Department said in a statement that the two suspects in the Aug. 25 attack on the Casino Royale were detained in Monterrey Wednesday. Another 15 had already been arrested in connection with the case.

Finally, Mexico's National Public Safety System announced that almost one-third of 63,436 low-ranking Mexican police officers tested so far have failed background and security checks.

Almost one-quarter of the police chiefs and top commanders tested so far have also failed, as had about 10 percent of midlevel police commanders and officers. The agency said in a statement that all those who fail the vetting process should be fired, but left open the possibility that some might be reassigned.

Mexico has set a goal of vetting all of its police by the end of 2012. However, only 71,079 have been tested so far, equal to about 18 percent of the total police force of 431,739 officers.