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Mexico detains leader of cartel linked to violent attacks in Jalisco state

Mexican authorities say they have detained a leader of the Jalisco New Generation cartel, an organized crime group that has grown in influence over the last year and has been termed responsible for some of the deadliest attacks on government agents in recent years.

Daniel Quintero Riestra was arrested by the Mexican military Tuesday while on a boat off the coast of Cancun, according to Mexico’s National Security Commission.

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Quintero, also known as “El Dany,” has been sought on murder and kidnapping charges, and is under investigation in the killing of Jalisco’s former secretary of tourism, Jesus Gallegos Alvarez, according to Renato Sales Heredia, head of the National Security Commission.

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Gallegos Alvarez was killed in March 2013.

In April, 15 police officers died in an ambush outside the Jalisco state capital, Guadalajara, a city popular with American and Canadian tourists. The police convoy was blocked on a highway by a burning vehicle, and then came under heavy gunfire. The state is viewed as largely under the control of the Jalisco New Generation crime organization.

Less than a month later, at least three Mexican soldiers were killed when their helicopter was shot down with rocket-propelled grenades. The same day, May 1, also saw a rash of attacks across Guadalajara in which nine more people were killed.

A few weeks later, 39 men reported to be members of the New Generation cartel and one federal policeman were killed in a firefight at a ranch in Tanhuato, at the border between Michoacan and Jalisco states.

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That operation at the ranch, implemented by Mexico’s federal police, was interpreted by many as a move by the authorities to avenge the attacks on its agents by the cartel. But the federal government denied any wrongdoing.

The mass killing in Tanhuato came after a series of horrific incidents over the last 18 months involving extrajudicial killings and mass disappearances perpetrated by Mexican army personnel or police officers.

On Wednesday, it was not clear whether “El Dany” had been directly involved in either of the attacks on state agents allegedly carried out by his criminal organization. No fire was exchanged during his arrest Tuesday, according to the authorities.

Bonello is a special correspondent.

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