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U.S./World

Mexican crackdown nets another reputed drug lord

| Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011

MEXICO CITY -- Mexican authorities on Tuesday paraded the latest reputed crime boss to be arrested before television cameras as the government asserted that its strategy of targeting top gangsters was finally paying off.

Against a backdrop of black helicopters at an air base, police presented Moises Montero Alvarez, known as "El Koreano," and described him as a leader of a violent splinter group that's wreaking havoc in the resort town of Acapulco.

Later in the morning, National Security spokesman Alejandro Poire said that a series of arrests -- most notably of a chief enforcer for the Juarez cartel who police say acknowledges ordering 1,500 murders -- had delivered crippling blows to organized crime in Mexico.

"In recent weeks, we Mexicans have been witnesses to the systematic weakening of all criminal organizations," Poire said.

Poire highlighted the capture on Friday of Jose Antonio Acosta, a 33-year-old former state policeman who rose to become the alleged boss of La Linea, the Juarez cartel's enforcement wing, which has turned Ciudad Juarez, along the border with Texas, into the hemisphere's most murderous city.

Acosta's group oversaw "the worst surge of violence that our nation has seen in recent years," Poire said. He added that the arrest "weakens the ability of this group to carry out kidnappings, murders, extortion and the smuggling of drugs to the United States."

U.S. prosecutors are expected to file an extradition request to try Acosta in the United States on charges of involvement in the killings last year of an American consulate employee, her husband and the husband of another consulate worker in Ciudad Juarez.

Observers said the threat of facing U.S. justice might compel Acosta to rat out corrupt former and active-duty Juarez police officers who are thought to compose much of La Linea, which is battling the rival Sinaloa cartel for control of Juarez, across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.

"This could be a pivotal point in the battle for control of Juarez, and developments there must be watched very carefully in the coming days and weeks," the firm Strategic Forecasting of Austin, Texas, said in a note to clients.

But even amid the spate of arrests, Mexican authorities faced fresh doubts about their ability to keep suspects in custody and carry off successful prosecutions.

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