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Mexican authorities arrest major figure in Colombian cocaine cartel

The Associated Press

MEXICO CITY- Mexican authorities have arrested a major figure in a Colombian cartel responsible for nearly half of the cocaine smuggled into the United States, the U.S. ambassador in Mexico said Friday.

The arrest of Jaime Maya Duran "shows the determination of U.S. and Mexican law enforcement authorities to pursue the most dangerous criminals, including those who thought they were untouchable," Ambassador Tony Garza said in a news release.

Maya Duran was arrested Sept. 6 by agents of Mexico's Attorney General's Office. It was not immediately known where he was arrested and Mexican officials could not be reached for immediate comment.

A Colombian citizen, Maya Duran and three other key lieutenants allegedly took over the Norte Valle cartel, based in Cartago, Colombia, after the ring's suspected leader, Luis Hernando Gomez Bustamante, was jailed in Cuba for attempting to enter the country with a false passport two years ago.

The ring is believed to have smuggled more than 500 tons of cocaine through Mexico and into the U.S. since 1990, according to the U.S. State Department.

Maya Duran arranged the logistics of multi-ton shipments of cocaine to the United States and Europe, according to the State Department. He is under indictment in New York City on narcotics trafficking and money laundering charges, and is expected to be extradited, Garza said.

U.S. officials had posted a US$5 million (euro4 million) reward for his arrest.

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