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Reputed drug cartel leader "Muletas" and another suspected gangster are arrested in Baja California

February 8, 2010 |  6:23 pm

Two reputed leaders of a drug cartel that waged a years-long terror campaign in Tijuana were arrested Monday in the Baja California port city of La Paz, according to U.S. authorities.

Raydel Lopez Uriarte and Manuel Garcia Simental are believed to be top lieutenants of a gang blamed for a string of massacres, police killings, beheadings and kidnappings that caused many residents to flee the border city.

The arrests by Mexican federal police, coming one month after the capture of alleged leader Teodoro Garcia Simental, are the latest blows to the gang. Authorities feared Lopez Uriarte and Manuel Garcia Simental, Teodoro’s younger brother, were planning to reignite a gang war for control of Tijuana’s drug trafficking routes.

Lopez Uriarte was known for his narrow escapes and flair for self promotion: His nickname “Muletas,” or crutches, stands for the trail of disabled people he has left behind. He outfitted his crew with uniforms featuring a patch designed with a skull and crutches crossed underneath.

The Mexican government did not provide details of the arrests.

— Richard Marosi in San Diego