MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The Mexican defense ministry on Monday paraded before the media a man suspected of being a senior aide to the country's most wanted drug trafficker, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, the boss of the powerful Sinaloa cartel.
In a statement, the defense ministry said Mexican soldiers had arrested Felipe Cabrera, known as "el Inge", in Culiacan, capital of Sinaloa, the northwestern Pacific state after which Guzman's drug cartel is named.
Cabrera, whose nickname is an abbreviation of the Spanish word for engineer, was the second suspected Guzman lieutenant to be seized in Culiacan in the past two months. In October, the army captured a third Guzman ally in the city.
President Felipe Calderon's conservative administration has been dominated by his military crackdown against drug cartels, which has claimed over 45,000 lives in the past five years, eroding support for his National Action Party, or PAN.
The government has captured or killed dozens of senior drug smugglers, but Guzman, the most notorious, still eludes Calderon.
The defense ministry said Cabrera was in charge of the Sinaloa cartel's operations in the neighboring state of Durango, a Guzman bastion where he has been rumored to live.
It added that Cabrera also had responsibility for the southern part of the border state of Chihuahua, through which many drugs are smuggled into the United States.
Cabrera, who allegedly headed Guzman's personal security in the Durango area, is suspected of involvement in a host of violent crimes ranging from arson to kidnapping and extortion.
The government didn't say when Cabrera was captured. He was paraded before the media in Mexico City on Monday, a common practice after a noted drug cartel suspect is captured.
Guzman runs an empire of methamphetamine, marijuana and cocaine smuggling that has earned him a spot on Forbes magazine's list of billionaires.
(Reporting by Anahi Rama; Editing by Eric Beech)