GUADALAJARA, Mexico – CNN Mexico reported today that Mexican marines have captured a man believed to be the leader of the Gulf Cartel, which controls some of the most valuable drug smuggling routes along the US border.
Costilla Sanchez, 41, was one of the most wanted drug lords in Mexico and the United States, which had offered $5 million for his capture.
Costilla Sanchez’s arrest is seen as a major blow to the Gulf Cartel, which has been badly weakened since 2010 when ties with the Zetas, its former enforcers, were severed, the BBC reported.
Since then it has been fighting a violent turf war with the hyper-violent Zetas and seen its organization split into factions.
Mexican marines arrested another senior member of the Gulf Cartel, Mario Cardenas Guillen, earlier this month.
More from GlobalPost: Mexico: Gulf Cartel leader Mario Cardenas Guillen, or 'The Fat One,' arrested
Experts warned these arrests could leave a power vacuum in the gang and escalate drug-related violence throughout Mexico as the two remaining dominant cartels, the Sinaloa Cartel and the Zetas, fight for control of territory controlled by the Gulf Cartel.
"It consolidates this new configuration of organized crime in Mexico," Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, an expert on politics and crime in the Gulf Cartel’s territory in Tamaulipas, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying.
"This disintegration of the Gulf Cartel will be impacting in a very serious way the levels of violence in Tamaulipas and probably in the whole country."