Mexican drug cartel leader 'El Coss' arrested
'This is a very, very important arrest,' officials say
Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sanchez, popularly known as "El Coss" is one of Mexico's most-wanted men. Long believed to be one of the most important leaders in the drug cartels, Costilla has finally been arrested by marines. While being hailed as a major victory in the ongoing drug war, there are fears that his arrest will prompt a violent power struggle among the cartels.
Wearing a blue plaid shirt and bulletproof vest, "El Coss" was presented along with 10 bodyguards. The navy also displayed dozens of assault weapons. Some of the pistols appeared gilded and studded with jewels.
The region has seen some of the most violent in the country's six-year war among law-enforcement and rival gangs.
Navy Spokesman Admiral Jose Luis Vergara says that the burly, mustachioed man detained this week in the Gulf port of Tampico was the capo known as "El Coss." The 41-year-old is charged in the U.S. with drug-trafficking and threatening US law enforcement officials.
Wearing a blue plaid shirt and bulletproof vest, the suspect was presented along with 10 bodyguards. The navy also displayed dozens of assault weapons. Some of the pistols appeared gilded and studded with jewels.
"This is a very, very important arrest," Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, chair of the Department of Government at the University of Texas, Brownsville says. Correa-Cabrera is an expert on politics and crime in the Gulf Cartel's territory in the state of Tamaulipas.
She says she expects a surge in violence between the two remaining dominant cartels in Mexico, which are the Pacific Coast-based Sinaloa Cartel run by Mexico's most-wanted man, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, and the brutal paramilitary Zetas, the former enforcement arm of the Gulf Cartel.
"It consolidates this new configuration of organized crime in Mexico," Correa-Cabrera says. "This disintegration of the Gulf Cartel will be impacting in a very serious way the levels of violence in Tamaulipas and probably in the whole country."
Costilla shook his head when asked if he had anything to say about the charges against him and when asked if he had a lawyer.
The Matamoros-based Gulf Cartel was once one of Mexico's strongest, which was weakened in recent years by battles with other gangsters and by law-enforcement operations. The group smuggled and distributed tons of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana into the U.S. under the leadership of the Cardenas Guillen family.
Costilla worked for several years as a local police officer before he allegedly joined the Gulf Cartel in the 1990s and becoming a lieutenant for then-leader Osiel Cardenas Guillen.
After Guillen's 2003 arrest and imprisonment in the U.S., officials say Costilla joined the capo's brother Ezequiel in running the cartel.
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