Mexico nabs ally of reputed U.S.-born drug smuggler

MEXICO CITY — A former homicide detective accused of becoming a top enforcer for a U.S.-born drug trafficker has been arrested in central Mexico, authorities said Sunday.

Former state police detective Irvin Solano recruited hit men and procured weapons for Edgar Valdez Villareal, one of Mexico's most-wanted cartel suspects, the Public Safety Department said in a statement.

Solano was arrested Friday in the central state of Morelos, which has turned into a battleground for control of the Beltran Leyva cartel after leader Arturo Beltran Leyva was killed in a December shootout there with Mexican marines.

The department said Solano directed much of the turf war for Valdez, who is believed to be battling with Hector Beltran Leyva, brother of the slain kingpin.

Solano chose who to kill and ordered the burial of some victims to prevent to their identification, the statement said. He is suspected in at least 30 murders.


Solano once was a homicide detective for the Morelos state police, working for the department as recently as 2005. Federal police say he was recruited into the Beltran Leyva cartel while he was still on the force.

Valdez, a U.S. citizen known as "La Barbie," was charged in Atlanta last week with conspiring to import tons of cocaine into the eastern United States. Authorities are offering a $2 million reward for information leading to his capture.

Five others — including two U.S. citizens — were charged along with Valdez, who was born in Laredo, Texas. Solano was not among them.

Solano was arrested along with another suspected cartel member, Jose Luis Solano. The pair were found with a gun, ammunition and 56 packets of white powder believed to be cocaine.

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