‘La Linea’ cartel leader arrested in wake of murder of two National Guard members

Border Crime

Cache of weapons seized from suspect during sweep of area where guardsmen gunned down two days earlier

Chihuahua state police on Wednesday announced the arrest of Luis Antonio N., an alleged leader of La Linea drug cartel, and the seizure of 10 rifles. (photo courtesy Chihuahua Public Safety Commission)

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Police looking for the killers of two Mexican National Guard members have arrested a man and seized an arsenal of weapons in rural Chihuahua state.

Guardsmen Alejandro Celestino Cazarin Montiel and Monico Loyda were shot to death Monday in a highway leading from the city of Aldama to the border town of Presidio. The two were part of a larger force patrolling the Chihuahua countryside which came under attack from unknown assailants. A second Mexican National Guard unit came under attack a day later, though no casualties were recorded, according to Mexican press reports.

The Aldama-Ojinaga highway is known to police officials and crime experts as a busy drug-trafficking corridor leading to the Big Bend area of Texas.

Several hundred state and federal police officers have been sweeping the area where the National Guardsmen were murdered for the past two days. On Wednesday afternoon, Chihuahua state authorities announced the arrest of a man only identified as Luis Antonio N. He was arrested at milepost 14 of the Aldama-Ojinaga Highway allegedly in possession of 10 rifles — from a .22 caliber long weapon to three 30-30 caliber ones.

The man also was allegedly in possession of 200 bullets and drove a 2005 white Jaguar S. The Chihuahua State Security Commission identified Luis Antonio N. as an alleged leader of La Linea, a powerful drug-trafficking organization formerly associated with the extinct Juarez cartel.

Mexican officials did not immediately say if the man had anything to do with the killing of the National Guard members.

The Commission said in a statement late Wednesday that the criminal cell that Luis Antonio N. works for operates in central Chihuahua state, particularly in a town named Manuel Benavides.

Earlier on Wednesday, Chihuahua Deputy Attorney General Jorge Nava said the killing of the two National Guard members was “an attack against all security institutions” in Mexico. He said he knew one of the guardsmen — he didn’t say which one — who previously worked in Juarez. “We had an excellent working relationship with him,” Nava said.

The state official said Juarez authorities were not in a state of alert as a result of the attacks on the National Guard, but that “we have offered support to them and other authorities in case they need information on suspects.”

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