Mexico arrests 5 suspects in police slayings

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (AP) — Mexican police arrested five suspects in the killings of seven police officers and a bystander in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, authorities said Monday.

The suspects are members of La Linea gang, the enforcement arm of the Juarez drug cartel, according to a statement from a joint anti-crime task force in Chihuahua state.

The men confessed to Friday's ambush of two police patrol trucks as they were flagged down for help by an unidentified man, the federal, state and local task force said. Six federal police officers and one local police woman were killed.

The suspects also confessed to 36 other slayings since 2009 and to extorting money from at least 21 businesses, the task force said.

In Mexico City, meanwhile, police arrested a man accused of negotiating cocaine shipments in Central America for a gang led by Texas-born Edgar Valdez Villarreal.

The suspect, Dagoberto Jimenez, was arrested Sunday, said Ramon Pequeno, head of the anti-narcotics division of Mexico's federal police.

Jimenez first supervised the arrival of cocaine shipments to the southern state of Campeche and then was promoted to negotiate cocaine purchases in Central America, Pequeno said.

Authorities say Valdez Villarreal is in a fight for control of the Beltran Leyva cartel.

A battle for the cartel began after Mexican marines killed drug kingpin Arturo Beltran Leyva during a December shootout at an upscale apartment complex in Cuernavaca, south of Mexico City. The struggle for power has triggered dozens of killings in Morelos state, where Cuernavaca is located, and in neighboring Guerrero state, authorities say.

Drug-related violence has claimed more than 22,700 lives since a government crackdown against organized crime began in December 2006.