MEXICO CITY (AP) – Mexican authorities said Tuesday they have arrested an alleged drug gang leader they believe was responsible for the 2014 killing of a New York man who vanished while heading on his motorcycle to Brazil for the World Cup.
Mexico's federal police said they arrested Adrian Reyes Cadena, the purported leader of a drug gang in the Pacific coast resort of Zihuatanejo.
A federal official, who was not authorized to be quoted by name under the agency's rules, said Reyes Cadena's gang apparently thought motorcyclist Harry Devert was a U.S. agent.
Devert was a 33-year-old stock trader from Pelham, New York. His decomposed remains were found along with his motorcycle months later about 16 miles (27 kilometers) from Zihuatanejo. The remains were identified through genetic testing. Authorities also said they recovered a bag nearby containing 10 packets of what appeared to be marijuana and cocaine.
Reyes Cadena allegedly led the "Guerrero Guard" gang and was known by the alias "El Tigre." He also is alleged to have overseen the kidnapping and disappearance of two federal police officers in 2013 and the kidnapping of an Italian businessman in 2014.
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Federal police said in a statement that officers obtained a search warrant for three homes in Zihuatanejo, where they arrested Reyes Cadena and another purported gang leader, Mariano Sierra Santana, with four pistols and five rifles.
Sierra Santana allegedly worked for the La Familia and Knights Templar cartels in the neighboring state of Michoacan. Police said he may have been involved in a June ambush of a convoy near Apatzingan, Michoacan, in which seven people, including two police officers, were killed.
The federal official said Sierra Santana had been a top operator for the Knights Templar cartel in the area of Michoacan where the armed vigilante "self-defense" movement sprang up in 2013.
Divisions between two of the self-defense leaders grew into open conflict and shootings between the vigilantes in 2014.
The federal official said Sierra Santana worked as a spy and henchman for one of the quarreling vigilante leaders, but after a falling out he took refuge in Guerrero state. The official did not identify which of the two leaders allegedly employed Sierra Santana, but each has accused the other in the past of employing former members of the drug cartel they were originally formed to fight.