6 Nov 2010

Mexico drug cartel leader killed near US border

5:47 pm on 6 November 2010

A leader of Mexico's powerful Gulf drug cartel has been shot dead by security forces in a town near the US border, the Mexican military says.

Ezequiel Cardenas Guillen, known as "Tony Tormenta", was killed in the city of Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville in Texas.

He is the brother of former Gulf cartel leader Osiel Cardenas, who was extradited to the US in 2007.

Residents in Matamoros spoke of a shoot-out lasting for several hours.

Three suspected gunmen and two marines were also killed in the gun battle, according to federal security spokesman Alejandro Poire.

Cardenas, 48, had been indicted in the US on drugs charges, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration was offering a reward of up to $5m for his arrest.

He was accused of smuggling tonnes of drugs across the US/Mexico border in the course of the past decade.

The BBC reports that Friday's operation involved several hundred Mexican soldiers and marines, and local residents were trapped in shops and schools for extended periods.

Bridges across the international border into Texas were closed briefly, as the military used firearms and grenades to tackle suspected cartel members.