Originally published February 8, 2010 at 11:14 a.m., updated February 8, 2010 at 9:34 p.m.
Mexican federal police say two drug gang leaders arrested Monday morning in La Paz were Teodoro Garcia Simental's successors. Before his arrest, Teodoro Garcia Simental, or "El Teo," headed a drug gang in Tijuana that sparked the most violent period in the city's history.
Mexican federal police descended on Reydel Uriarte Lopez, "El Muletas" or "Crutches" and Manuel Garcia Simental, "El Chiquilin" or "The Kid" early Monday morning in La Paz, Baja California Sur.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration confirmed the arrests mid-morning on Monday. However, Mexican authorities were mum until issuing a press release Monday evening.
The press release says after "El Teo's" arrest on January 12, his brother, Manuel Garcia Simental and Lopez Uriarte took over the drug gang's helm. Police say Garcia Simental was in charge of drug trafficking for the criminal group in Tijuana, Tecate and Ensenada. They say he also took over the group's finances. Police say Lopez Uriarte was second in command. They say he coordinated the group's hit men, looked for "institutional" protection, and recruited members.
Mexican federal police link Lopez Uriarte to some of the most heinous killings perpetrated by "El Teo's" drug trafficking gang. After "El Teo's" arrest, Mexican authorities say he was responsible for more than 300 murders in Baja California, numerous beheadings and mutilations, kidnappings and oversaw a man who dissolved hundreds of bodies in acid.
Until the spring of 2008, "El Teo" was a top hit man for the Arellano Felix Cartel in Tijuana. However, he broke away from the group and formed his own gang, with the backing of the Sinaloa Cartel. "El Teo's" attempt to wrestle Tijuana's prime drug trafficking routes to the United States and the city's local market away from the Arellano Felix Cartel set off historic violence in Tijuana in fall of 2008. Hundreds of people have been murdered since, including more than 120 so far this year.
Mexican federal police say the Manuel Garcia Simental and Uriarte Lopez worked for the Sinaloa Cartel, under Joaquin Guzman, "El Chapo" and Ismael Zambada, "El Mayo".
Mexican federal police say they were able to disentangle "El Teo's" web by exchanging intelligence with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Federal police also say intelligence gathered by the Mexican federal police's special forces, after "El Teo's" arrest led to Monday morning's detentions.
Mexican authorities say investigations will continue in Baja California based on these arrests.