Tijuana, Mexico: Police in the border city of Mexicali have arrested a purported top figure in Mexico`s powerful Sinaloa drug cartel, authorities said Friday.
Baja California state police arrested Manuel Garibay on Thursday while he was driving in Mexicali, across from Calexico, California, the state public security department said in a statement.
Garibay, 52, was the Sinaloa cartel`s link to Colombian cocaine suppliers since last year`s arrest of Vicente "El Vicentillo" Zambada, the department said.
Zambada`s father, Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, is one of the leaders of the Sinaloa cartel together with Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, according to authorities. Garibay was being sought by authorities for trafficking cocaine from Colombia to Mexico, and for being involved in several kidnappings and killings, it said.
Garibay allegedly led a cell of at least 28 cartel members including his brother, Jose Luis Garibay, who was arrested in Mexicali in 2005. Meanwhile, in the border state of Tamaulipas, at least 11 gunmen died in three separate clashes with Mexican navy and army troops.
The navy said in a statement that six gunmen died Thursday in two shootouts in Matamoros, across from Brownsville, Texas. Another five gunmen died after clashing with soldiers late Thursday in Ciudad Mier, which is also in Tamaulipas, the Mexican army said in a separate statement.
Also Friday, the government rejected conclusions of the National Human Rights Commission that soldiers altered the crime scene after an April 3 shootout in Tamaulipas that killed two young children.
In a statement, Interior Secretary Fernando Gomez Mont denied that the scene was altered. The government says the children, 5 and 9 years old, were caught with their family in the crossfire between soldiers and drug traffickers while driving on a highway. The commission investigation said soldiers fired directly into the car, then changed the configuration of the scene to make it appear the vehicle was hit by crossfire. The commission also said Mexico`s defense department should compensate the family of the children.
In the northern state of Coahuila, meanwhile, gunmen shot at a television state Friday but nobody was hurt.
Local Televisa network news director Felipe Perez confirmed the attack in a phone interview with The Associated Press. There were no arrests. It was the second attack on the news media this week in the city of Torreon. On Tuesday, a pregnant woman was wounded when armed men shot at the offices of Noticias de El Sol de la Laguna newspaper.
More than 23,000 people have been killed by drug violence since late 2006, when President Felipe Calderon began deploying thousands of troops and federal police to drug hot spots.
Mexican officials attribute much of the bloodshed to turf battles between drug cartels, but the gangs are increasingly turning to attacks on police and prosecutors.