Mexican police have arrested a man in the western state of
Jalisco suspected of orchestrating a string of crimes
including more than 200 murders, the country's interior
Felipe Viveros, 30, was captured alongside Jose Bernabe, 43
and Froylan Barrera, 40, the interior ministry said in a
statement that did not indicate when they were apprehended.
All three are suspected of being involved in crimes including
kidnapping, extortion and arms trafficking, but only Viveros
is thought to have ordered the homicides, the statement said.
"It is presumed that Viveros ordered and participated in more
than 200 murders committed against kidnapping victims,
members of rival gangs and drug dealers. He has also been
identified as one of the heads of a group extorting various
authorities in Jalisco," the statement said.
Viveros was said to have committed the crimes in the states
of Jalisco and Guerrero to the south, and he has been
directly linked to at least 10 kidnappings. Bernabe and
Barrera are alleged to have supplied information, security
and communication to various criminal groups, the statement
The western states of Jalisco, Guerrero and Michoacan have
become the bloody epicenter of Mexico's drug war in recent
months, harboring drug cartels and vigilante groups engaged
in regular conflict with the country's security forces.
On Monday, Mexican authorities found the bodies of eight
kidnap victims, some dismembered, on a highway in Guerrero.
The state, home to the resort city of Acapulco, is one of
Mexico's most violent, and drug cartels are battling for
lucrative trafficking routes to the United States while also
fighting over territory for kidnapping and extortion rackets.
Security in the state has been ramped up at various times
over the past few years, including after the discovery of
dozens of bodies in clandestine graves, battles between rival
groups and the burning of entire villages.
But the violence has not ceased and 2012 ended with more than
2,600 killings in Guerrero.
More than 80,000 people have died since former President
Felipe Calderon sent in the troops to tame the warring gangs
in early 2007.
The number of homicides has fallen slightly since new
President Enrique Pena Nieto took office last year.
Nonetheless, roughly 1,000 people are still killed each month
in drug-related slayings, and the kidnapping and extortion
rates have risen dramatically, leading some critics to
question Pena Nieto's tactics for ending the violence.
(Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Eric Beech)