Mexico Busts Drug Lord Hiding in Plain Sight

Feds arrest Hector Beltran Leyva in sleepy mountain city
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 2, 2014 11:40 AM CDT
Mexico Busts Drug Lord Hiding in Plain Sight
This undated image shows alleged cartel capo Hector Beltran Leyva. On Wednesday, Mexican officials confirmed the arrest of Beltran Leyva at a restaurant in the city of San Miguel de Allende.   (AP Photo/US State Department website)

San Miguel de Allende is a sleepy artists' enclave nestled in the mountains of central Mexico, equally popular with artists and retired Americans. But the city jolted awake yesterday as federal special forces swept into a seafood restaurant and nabbed one of the nation's most notorious drug lords, Hector Beltran Leyva, who had apparently been hiding in plain sight in nearby Queretaro, reports NBC. The honcho of the eponymous Beltran Leyva cartel had been posing as a dealer of not drugs, but rather art and real estate, says a rep with the Mexican AG's office, and was living a "low-key lifestyle, avoiding attracting the attention of neighbors or friends or the authorities."

Beltran Leyva is the fourth of his brothers to fall, notes the AP; two others are currently cooling their heels behind bars, while another was killed in 2009, when Beltran Leyva took over leadership of the cartel. "Obviously this is not the Beltran Leyvas' organization in its strongest moment," says a Mexican security expert, "but it continues to be a criminal organization capable of generating localized violence in some states." Beltran Leyva's head carries a $5 million bounty stateside, and a $2.2 million bounty in Mexico. It's the latest in a string of coups for Mexican authorities: In February, they captured Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, dubbed the world's most powerful drug lord. (The killing of a drug lord a month later was a bit more repetitive.)

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