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Mexican drug lord Arturo Beltran Leyva's body shown to reporters after wild shootout

December 17, 2009 | 11:37 am

The shootout that left drug cartel chief Arturo Beltran Leyva dead reportedly involved 200 Mexican marines who quietly evacuated residents of an apartment complex before storming the building in the city of Cuernavaca.

Beltran Leyva's body, which remained at the scene early today, was briefly shown to reporters who were allowed inside the apartment complex.

Authorities said Beltran Leyva, known as the "boss of bosses" as the head of a Sinaloa-based gang, and six members of his cartel died in the shootout Wednesday night. Cartel operatives had tossed grenades and fired weapons during the battle, which left one marine dead and wounded at least two, officials said.

“First they were asked to surrender, but they didn't yield and they opened fire,” said one of the ski-masked marines who participated in the raid, and who was not authorized to give his name, according to the Associated Press.

President Felipe Calderon, who is attending the climate summit in Copenhagen, reportedly called the Beltran Leyva death "a resounding blow against one of the most dangerous criminal organizations in Mexico, and on the continent.” The government had offered a $2-million reward for information leading to his capture.

During the last three years, Calderon has deployed more than 45,000 troops, including Mexico's navy, to fight drug traffickers throughout the country.

-- Efrain Hernandez Jr.