Mexico City: Mexican security forces killed reputed Gulf cartel boss Antonio Ezequiel Cardenas Guillen, one of Mexico`s most wanted drug lords, in a spectacular, hours-long gunbattle on Friday in the northern border city of Matamoros, officials said.
Cardenas Guillen, also known as "Tony Tormenta" or "Tony the Storm”, is the brother of imprisoned former leader Osiel Cardenas Guillen and is believed to have run the powerful cartel along with Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sanchez.
Federal security spokesman Alejandro Poire said Cardenas Guillen died in a clash across the border from Brownsville, Texas that also claimed the lives of three gunmen and two marines. A reporter with a local newspaper also died in the shootout.
Cardenas Guillen has been indicted in the United States on drug trafficking charges and US authorities have offered a USD 5 million reward for information leading to the 48-year-old`s arrest. Mexican authorities had offered a USD 2 million reward.
His death is blow to Mexico`s second-most powerful cartel and a major boost to President Felipe Calderon`s war on drug cartels.
"Today, we have taken another meaningful step toward the dismantling of criminal groups that do so much damage to our country," Poire said.
Cardenas Guillen`s brother, Osiel, led the Gulf cartel until his arrest by Mexican authorities in 2003. Osiel Cardenas Guillen was extradited to the United States in 2007 and sentenced to 25 years in prison by a Texas court in February.
Northeast Mexico, an area once controlled by the Gulf cartel, has seen an increase in violence with broad daylight shootouts and dozens of beheaded corpses dumped in public areas due to a turf battle between the cartel and the Zetas, a drug gang made up of former Mexican special-forces soldiers.
The newspaper El Expreso said on its website that reporter Carlos Guajardo was covering the shootout when he was struck. The Matamoros newspaper gave no other details.
Local media reported Guajardo was leaving the area of the clash when his car was hit more than 20 times.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said in a recent report that at least 22 Mexican journalists have been killed since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderon launched a crackdown on cartels. Nationwide, more than 28,000 people have been killed in drug violence.