U.S., Mexican Officials Capture Tijuana Drug Lord

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Alleged Tijuana drug kingpin Teodoro "El Teo" Garcia Simental — considered to be one of Mexico's most violent traffickers — was arrested Tuesday on the Baja California peninsula, U.S. and Mexican officials said.

Garcia Simental was arrested at 5 a.m., said Amy Roderick, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in San Diego, California. She said she had no other details.

A U.S. official and a Mexican law enforcement official said he was captured in La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur state. He is the second alleged major drug lord to be taken down in less than a month by President Felipe Calderon's government.

Neither the U.S. nor the Mexican official was authorized to give a name for publication.

Garcia is considered to be among the country's most vicious kingpins. Officials say he was to blame for many of the beheaded bodies found dumped in Tijuana and that he ordered hundreds of bodies to be dissolved in acid.

He is listed among Mexico's 24 most-wanted drug lords and the government had offered $2.1 million for information leading to his arrest.

Officials say Garcia was a cartel lieutenant who broke away from the Arellano Felix gang following the arrest of its leader, Benjamin Arellano Felix, and the death of his brother, Raul.

Garcia formed his own gang, which was zealous in killing street-corner peddlers as he tried to solidify his control of eastern Tijuana. He is believed to be allied with the Sinaloa cartel, run by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, according to an army document dated February 2009.

His arrest comes on the heels of another triumph for Calderon's drug war. Mexican marines killed reputed kingpin Arturo Beltran Leyva on Dec. 16 during a raid on an apartment complex in Cuernavaca, south of Mexico City.

Federal officials on Jan. 2 arrested his brother Carlos Beltran Leyva in another blow to the gang.

Calderon's government has sent more than 45,000 troops to drug hotspots to confront the cartels. Cartels have responded with a vengeance, unleashing unprecedented killings. More than 15,500 people have died from drug violence since 2006. The government says most of the dead are smugglers.