Mexican security forces captured a man who has been tentatively identified as a commander of the Gulf Cartel in Reynosa, who controlled illegal trafficking of drugs, guns, and money as well as kidnapping of migrants in a frontier region bordering Texas. On Sunday, Federal Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido identified the suspect as Juan Manuel Rodriguez Garcia, but did not officially specify the cartel for which he allegedly worked.
However, an official for the US government told The Associated Press that Rodriguez Garcia was the Gulf Cartel's commander along the Rio Grande and was competing for control of the gang's operations in all of Tamaulipas state. The source agreed to discuss the arrest, and Garcia's link to the Gulf cartel, only if not quoted by name because he was not authorized to speak to journalists.
Juan Manuel Rodriguez Garcia was captured near a hotel with his wife and children in San Pedro Garza Garcia, according to Commissioner Alejandro Rubido.
Rodriguez, also known as "Juan Perros," was listed as one of the top 12 most wanted criminals in Mexico, and led criminal operations in Reynosa and Rio Bravo, allegedly for the Gulf cartel.
Rubido mentioned an August 2013 confrontation with Mexican soldiers that was linked to Rodriguez. Four soldiers died during that battle.
Rodriguez was in charge of trafficking drugs, cash and weapons, as well as extorting other local businesses, ostensibly for the Gulf cartel.
"There are indications that he ordered mass kidnappings of undocumented migrants, who were forced to work for his group or, if they refused, were killed," Rubido said, adding that Rodriguez also oversaw widespread kidnapping and extortion of immigrants in the country looking to cross the border into the United States illegally.
Security officials stated at the news conference in Mexico City that they confirmed Rodriguez's identity several ways, which included comparing his fingerprints with that of his former military identification and his voter ID card.
Widespread drug violence has returned to Tamaulipas in recent weeks, as factions within the Gulf Cartel have been battling both the Mexican authorities and each other.
Mexico's Secretary of the Interior, Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, announced in Reynosa this month a new security plan for Tamaulipas that aims to restore security across the state by expanding security forces and splitting the state into four quadrants, which would allow authorities to focus on fighting organizations like the Gulf cartel locally.
Six suspected cartel enforcers were killed by the Mexican army during two shootouts last week alone in the greater Reynosa area, according to Tamaulipas government officials. In Ejido Arguelles, a village outside Reynosa, soldiers seized two trucks, several rifles, ammunition, and tactical gear from five gunmen following a confrontation.
Federal police also arrested suspected Gulf cartel member 26-year-old Jose Luis Martinez Vasquez, 26. Police seized six guns, a grenade launcher, seven grenades, 48 bullet magazines and more than 1,300 bullets, in addition to an unspecified amount of marijuana and cocaine. The capture of the alleged Gulf Cartel boss Juan Manuel Rodriguez Garcia is one more victory for the entrenched Policía Federal forces.