Alleged Drug Trafficker Arrested in Consulate Attack

MEXICO CITY (AP) - The Mexican army arrested an alleged drug
trafficker suspected of organizing an attack on a U.S. consulate as
well as the killing of several soldiers in retaliation for a
government crackdown, President Felipe Calderon said Friday.

Calderon said alleged Gulf cartel hit man Sigifrido Najera
Talamantes was captured in the northern city of Saltillo, Coahuila,
earlier in the day.

Najera Talamantes is suspected in an Oct. 12 attack in which one
man opened fire on the U.S. consulate in the northern city of
Monterrey and another man threw a grenade that failed to explode.
Nobody was hurt.

He is also suspected of involvement in a similar gunfire and
grenade attack Jan. 7 on the offices of the Televisa television
network's station in Monterrey.

And Calderon said Najera Talamantes "was directly responsible
for the torture and execution of soldiers" - a reference to the
killings of nine soldiers whose bodies were found in Monterrey in
late October, reportedly in retaliation for the army's
participation in anti-drug operations.

Speaking before the leaders of the country's humans rights
commission, Calderon used the arrest to mount a spirited defense of
the army's often-criticized role in the anti-drug fight. Under
Calderon, Mexico has dispatched tens of thousands of soldiers to
fight cartels nationwide, but some of those troops have been
accused of abuses.

"The presence of federal forces, especially the army and navy,
has become not just possible, just and legitimate, but
indispensable," Calderon said. "The withdrawal of the military
from the streets is not possible at this time because of a lack of
qualified police."

"I fully agree ... that the role of the armed forces should be
temporary," Calderon added, but he said Najera Talamantes's
capture "would not have been possible in the present circumstances
without the valuable help of the Mexican army."

Known as "El Canicon" or "the Big Marble," apparently for
his stocky build, Najera Talamantes is also suspected of
involvement in the killings of six federal police officers and one
federal investigative agent between 2007 and July 2008.

"El Canicon has been implicated in drug trafficking, human
trafficking, robbery of fuel from Pemex pipelines, pirated goods
and homicide, kidnapping and extortion," said Army Gen. Luis
Arturo Olivar.

Three men and three women were detained along with Najera
Talamantes, including a woman described as an accountant for the
Gulf cartel. Soldiers seized 10.1 million pesos ($713,000), eight
assault rifles, seven grenades, a grenade launcher and two
bulletproofed vehicles.

The suspects are being held pending charges.

Also Friday, the attorney general's office said authorities
transferred alleged drug trafficker Vicente "El Vicentillo"
Zambada to a maximum-security prison near the capital to be held
pending a U.S. extradition request.

Mexico grants more extraditions than in the past, but the
process can take years and Zambada could face domestic charges
first.

Zambada, who was arrested Wednesday, faces a 2003 U.S.
indictment on charges of conspiracy to import and distribute
cocaine. His father is Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, considered one
of Mexico's top drug lords.


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