Latin America & Caribbean

Mexican police arrest members of Sinaloa cartel

Soldier is silhouetted while sitting atop an armoured vehicle in a checkpoint at the hometown of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman in the municipality of Badiraguato Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The operation was conducted in utmost secrecy to protect the Mexican police involved

Mexican police working with US agencies have arrested 24 members of the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel in a joint border operation.

A spokesman for the US authorities said the operation had targeted high-level members of the cartel.

The spokesman said the operation had dealt a strong blow to the criminal organisation.

It comes weeks after the leader of the Sinaloa cartel, Joaquin Guzman was arrested after six months on the run.

Inside the feared Sinaloa cartel

'El Chapo' Guzman and the Sinaloa cartel

The spokesman, for the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency said they had helped Mexican police target a Sinaloa cartel cell operating around the Mexican city of Sonoyta, along the border with the US state of Arizona.

He said it was responsible for importing millions of dollars of illegal drugs, including cannabis, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine into the US from Mexico during its existence.

The operation was conducted in total secrecy with police working in both Lukeville and Sonoyta, bordering cities that are on the route to the Puerto Penasco, the popular beach destination many Americans know as Rocky Point.

Mexican police officers had been allowed into the US to keep them safe during the operations the US immigration authorities had said.

The arrests are the latest blow to the Sinaloa cartel, following the recapture of Guzman, also known as "El Chapo" (Shorty).

He was arrested a few weeks ago after six months on the run, following his second escape from a high-security Mexican prison.

According to Forbes Magazine, Guzman is the world's most powerful drug trafficker.

The cartel is responsible for an estimated 25% of all illegal drugs that enter the U.S. via Mexico.

Drug enforcement experts estimate, conservatively, that the cartel's annual revenues may exceed $3 billion.

This February the city of Chicago branded him the first "Public Enemy No. 1" since Al Capone.

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