MEXICO CITY -- Joaquin Guzman, "El Chapo," the most wanted drug lord in Mexico and a multibillionaire fugitive, has been captured, a senior U.S. official said Saturday.

Few details were available. But Guzman has long been considered the top prize and most elusive figure in an extensive, ongoing drug war that has left tens of thousands of Mexicans dead.

Guzman led the Sinaloa cartel, the most powerful, richest and oldest of the drug-trafficking networks in Mexico. The group is responsible for the shipment of tons of cocaine and marijuana to the U.S.

The senior official said Guzman was captured early Saturday in the Sinaloa city of Mazatlan and was being transported to Mexico City. No shots were fired in the capture, the source said, which was based on information from an informant.

In recent days, the Mexican marines have been raiding numerous properties in Sinaloa belonging to close associates of Guzman.

Guzman was arrested in Guatemala in 1993 but escaped from prison in 2001 and has been on the lam ever since. 

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tracy.wilkinson@latimes.com