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Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-11-08

The Mexican army has seized its largest cache ever of illegal weapons from suspected members of a powerful drug cartel in what an enforcement official called one of the country's "biggest blows to organized crime".

The Mexican army made the country's largest ever weapons haul, of 540 weapons, from three suspected members of the powerful Gulf drug cartel, defense officials said Friday.
The haul, including 314 heavy duty arms, half a million cartridges and 164 grenades, was seized in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas and was "the biggest in Mexico's history," an official from the attorney general's office told journalists.
It was "one of the biggest blows to organized crime networks," said Marisela Morales, an official from a specialized division fighting drug trafficking.
Gold-incrusted weapons, more than 1,000 magazines, a rocket launcher and 976,000 pesos (around 75,000 dollars) were also seized, said army general Xicotencatl de Azolohua.
Federal police on Friday detained former soldier Jaime Gonzalez Duran, also in Tamaulipas near the US border, who was a founding member of a group of paramilitary hitmen and women known as the Zetas, who work for the Gulf cartel.
The original Zetas were elite Mexican Special Forces soldiers trained to find and detain drug lords. A group of deserters formed the group and went to work for the drug chiefs in the late 1990s.
Gonzalez Duran is accused of numerous murders in Mexico and also sought by a US court for cocaine trafficking.
Suspected drug violence has left almost 4,000 dead across the country this year, despite a vast federal crackdown including the deployment of some 36,000 soldiers, launched almost two years ago.

Date created : 2008-11-08