Mexico arrests Los Zetas drug cartel leader 'The Squirrel' over migrant massacres, US tourist murder

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Salvador Alfonso Martinez Escobedo, nicknamed “The Squirrel,” is paraded in front of the media in Mexico City on Monday morning after he was captured following a gunfight on Saturday in northern Mexico.

GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Mexican marines have arrested a Los Zetas drug cartel leader allegedly linked to more than 300 killings across the country, including the massacre of 72 illegal immigrants and the murder of US tourist David Hartley, Milenio reported today.

Salvador Alfonso Martinez Escobedo, nicknamed “The Squirrel,” was paraded in front of the media in Mexico City on Monday morning after he was captured following a gunfight on Saturday in Nuevo Laredo, a border city in the northern state of Tamaulipas, El Universal reported.

"Squirrel is credited with being the mastermind of the deaths of 72 undocumented migrants in San Fernando," the Mexican Navy said in a statement cited by ABC News.

"[He] is the alleged perpetrator of the narco graves found in Tamaulipas state, with more than 200 bodies and the execution of more than 50 people by his own hand in different parts of the republic, [as well as] the murder of David Hartley, an American citizen killed at Falcon Dam on September 30, 2010."

The Agence France-Presse said Martinez Escobedo is also accused of taking part in the killing of the police commander who was investigating Hartley’s death.

Hartley and his wife were jet skiing on Falcon Lake on the Texas-Mexico border when he was shot in the head by gunmen, ABC News said.

Martinez Escobedo is also suspected of being involved in two massive prison breaks in northern Mexico, AFP said.

More than 60,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence since December 2006 when President Felipe Calderon deployed thousands of soldiers to fight organized crime.

Some of the worst violence has been in the country’s north where gangs are battling for control of smuggling routes into the United States.

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