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Mexico announces capture of fuel-trafficking cartel chief

Jose Antonio Yepez, the leader of a powerful fuel-trafficking cartel in Mexico, was captured Sunday in a military operation in the central state of Guanajuato, the government said.

The capture of Yepez, also known as "El Marro," was announced on the official Twitter account of Alfonso Durazo, the federal minister of public security.

Yepez, considered one of Mexico's most wanted criminals, has built a cartel focused on drilling into pipelines and then selling the fuel on the black market. 

Durazo said Yepez had been transferred to a maximum-security prison in central Mexico state, and would be appearing before the federal judge who issued his arrest order on charges of "organized crime and fuel theft."

Eight men were arrested alongside Yepez, and a woman who had been kidnapped was rescued.

"This arrest is very important," said Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in a video streamed on social media.

When Lopez Obrador took office in December 2018, he organized his security policy to crack down on fuel trafficking.

"How did this cartel grow so much that Guanajuato became the most violent state in the country?" he demanded in his video message.

He said it was the result of "corruption" among local officials and their "complicity" with criminals.

On July 24 authorities arrested a top Yepez lieutenant and the head of one of the cartel's cells, Jose "El Mamey" Guadalupe.

Thirty cartel members were arrested in June, including Yepez's mother and sister, prompting him to make a video demanding their release.

Both women were freed days later. They claimed they had been tortured.

Guanajuato is one of Mexico's most important industrial centers.

Its wealth and extensive energy infrastructure have drawn the attention of criminal groups including the powerful Jalisco New Generation cartel and the Santa Rosa de Lima cartel.

Those two groups have been locked in bloody conflict, turning Guanajuato into one of Mexico's most violent states.

Topics: Jose Antonio Yepez , Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador , Mexico , Alfonso Durazo , Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel
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