US authorities have arrested the most-wanted leader of a notorious Mexican drug-trafficking gang, accusing him of being responsible for much of the violence that has wracked Mexico in recent years.
Investigators swooped on Juan Francisco Saenz-Tamez while he was shopping in Edinburg, Texas on October 9 and he made an initial court appearance on drug-trafficking charges on Tuesday.
“Saenz-Tamez became the head of the Gulf Cartel following the 2013 arrest of former leader Mario Ramirez-Trevino,” Michele Leonhart, of the US Drug Enforcement Administration, said in a statement.
“He oversaw much of the violence and bloodshed that has plagued Mexico and DEA is pleased he will face justice in the United States.”
A federal jury last year indicted Saenz-Tamez, 23, and charged him with conspiracy with intent to distribute cocaine, conspiracy with intent to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to money launder.
He faces up to life in prison for the drug charges and up to 20 years for the alleged money laundering.
“News that Juan Saenz-Tamez has been arrested is further proof that justice is prevailing in Mexico,” said John Bales, the US attorney for the Eastern District of Texas.
Saenz-Tamez is from Camargo in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas.
The DEA said he had moved steadily up the cartel ranks, working as a lookout, record keeper, plaza boss, and finally as leader.