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Death of Drug Lord Not Likely to Calm the Violence

While the death of leaders can often change the course of war, the same is not true in the war on drugs. When one drug lord or head of a cartel dies, the violence ensues to determine who will be his successor.

A recent post in The Age examined the death of Arturo Beltran Leyva, who had recently earned the title El jefe de jefes (the boss of bosses). At the age of 48, Leyva met his end when he was shot to death while trying to fight his way out of a huge Special Forces ring closing in on him.

The eldest of five brothers, Leyva took the head role in a traditional family-based smuggling gang. When the demise of big Colombian cartels began in the mid-1980s, Leyva’s group was ready to take advantage of cocaine trafficking opportunities. From that point on, Leyva’s group continues to advance its reach and its power.

In addition to his group’s successful movement of narcotics, Leyva was able to be successful in corrupting one of the officials at the top of the anti-organized crime unit of the attorney general’s office. This individual received as much as $490,000 a month. Leyva also developed impressive operations at Mexico City’s international airport.

Beyond his activities among the local community, Leyva was the prime suspect in the killing of the commissioner of the federal police and the assumed murderer of a key protected witness in a coffee shop in January.

Leyva was listed by the Mexican Government as one of its most-wanted drug lords and has posted a reward for his capture at $2 million. After escaping a raid on December 11, Leyva was tracked down by 200 Mexican marines, a navy helicopter and two army tanks to the city of Cuernavaca. It was there he was killed along with four other members of his cartel.

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