MEXICO CITY - Mexican authorities have arrested the wife of the leader of Jalisco New Generation, one of the country's fiercest drug cartels, as well as a top lieutenant for the organization, setting the western state of Jalisco on high-alert for possible reprisals.
Interior Minister Alfonso Navarrete said at a Sunday press conference that marines took into custody Rosalinda Gonzalez Valencia, the wife of Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, known as "El Mencho," the night before in the city of Zapopan. Gonzalez is accused of managing the cartel's finances.
At the same location, the marines also captured Gerardo Botello Rosales, aka "El Cachas," who is believed to run the cartel's operations in the states of Guanajuato and Michoacan. Botello is accused of homicide, kidnapping and extortion. He has an outstanding order for extradition from the state of Oregon for a 2002 homicide, Navarrete said.
Saturday's arrests are part of the "siege" on El Mencho, said Alejandro Hope, a Mexican security expert. "They have been hunting him with greater intensity since the end of last year."
Navarrete declined to speculate on whether government agents were close to detaining the cartel leader. But he said he hopes to soon have news.
"I once heard that they arrived at a place and that he had just left because the coffee was still steaming," said Navarrete.
Jalisco New Generation has a reputation for battling with government agents. Navarrete said he anticipates a "violent reaction" from the cartel, adding that government officials have taken precautions to prevent or respond to possible aggressions.
The cartel brazenly shot down a Mexican military helicopter with a rocket launcher in 2015, prompting Mexican officials to declare an all-out offensive against the criminal group. Tensions spiked again this past February, after the cartel allegedly abducted and murdered two federal agents in the Pacific state of Nayarit.
Jalisco state Gov. Aristoteles Sandoval said earlier Sunday that the state is "calm" amid stepped-up security.
Jalisco New Generation is believed to primarily traffic methamphetamine while also selling cocaine, heroin and marijuana. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency said in its October 2017 National Drug Threat Assessment report that the organization has distribution hubs for illicit substances in Los Angeles, New York and Atlanta.