MEXICO CITY -- Police arrested a reputed Sinaloa cartel associate Monday who is suspected of plotting with one of Mexico's most wanted drug lords to smuggle eight tons of marijuana into the U.S. by the end of this year.
Manuel "The Sow" Fernandez Valencia was taken into custody after a 20-minute standoff between police and gunmen, according to a statement by federal police.
The statement did not report any gunfire or casualties during the confrontation. It said seven other men suspected of working for the cartel were detained with Fernandez Valencia.
Police said Fernandez Valencia worked closely with cartel capo Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman smuggling drugs into the United States. He has been wanted for extradition to the U.S. since 2009 on charges of trafficking heroin and cocaine, and the two met at least five times recently, police said.
Guzman and Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, who authorities say control the Sinaloa cartel, are Mexico's two most notorious fugitives, with a $2 million reward offered for information on their whereabouts.
Police said Fernandez Valencia was courted by the leaders of the rival Beltran Leyva cartel in 2007, but he chose to remain with Guzman.
In August, his son Marcial was slain in Culiacan, apparently because the killers mistook him for Guzman's son. One drove a white Ferrari and the other a white Lamborghini. Police said intelligence indicated Guzman called Fernandez Valencia personally to apologize and vow to find the killers.
Monday's arrests come on the heels of the death of reputed Gulf cartel leader Antonio Ezequiel Cardenas Guillen, also known as "Tony Tormenta" or "Tony the Storm," one of a string of high-profile kingpins who have been captured or killed by security forces stationed throughout the country to battle drug traffickers.
More than 28,000 people have been killed in drug violence since President Felipe Calderon launched his national assault on organized crime in late 2006.
Also Monday, the mayor of Juan Rodriguez Clara, a small town in southern Veracruz state, was kidnapped and killed, along with two others. Mayor Gregorio Barradas Mirabete, his deputy Omar Manzur and Angel Landa Cardenas were forced into a blue Hummer around 4:30 p.m. Their bodies were later found, near Tuxtepec, in neighboring Oaxaca, with a written warning apparently left by an unspecified drug gang.
Officials were investigating the deaths. The region has been wracked by drug violence, land disputes and other feuds.