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Mexican Cartels: And Then There Were Two?

The reported capture of the leader of the Gulf cartel could leave the Sinaloa and Zetas cartels to fight it out for supremacy.

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El Coss on display Photo via

By McCarton Ackerman

09/14/12

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Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sanchez—otherwise known simply as "El Coss"—was presented to the public yesterday, following his arrest by Mexican marines as the suspected leader of the Gulf drug cartel. The cartel reportedly controls some of the most valuable and violently-contested smuggling routes along the US border, and has smuggled and distributed tons of cocaine, meth, heroin and marijuana into the US. Charges against the 41-year-old in this country include drug trafficking and threatening US law enforcement officials, and $5 million was on offer for information leading to his arrest. "This is a very, very important arrest," says Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, chair of the Department of Government at the University of Texas, Brownsville. "It consolidates this new configuration of organized crime in Mexico. This disintegration of the Gulf Cartel will be impacting in a very serious way the levels of violence in Tamaulipas and probably in the whole country." Correa-Cabrera believes we'll now see an increase in violence between the Sinoloas and the paramilitary Zetas—the two dominant remaining cartels. Authorities say that despite controlling the Gulf cartel's daily trafficking activities, El Coss kept a low profile—only two photographs of him had ever been made public. Five of his guards were also arrested Wednesday morning in Rio Bravo, Tamaulipas, while another five fled when marines tried to arrest them in Tampico—ultimately leading the marines to Costilla's hideout. 

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