Dramatic Photos Show What Happens When a Mexican Cartel Leader Is Arrested

Dramatic Photos Show What Happens When a Mexican Cartel Leader Is Arrested

On Friday, Mexican security forces arrested Jesús Salas Aguayo not far from the Texas border, in the northern Chihuahua city of Villa Ahumada. Aguayo is head of the Juárez Cartel, one of Mexico's biggest drug organizations, and is currently on the Drug Enforcement Agency's Most Wanted list.

Aguayo rose to power in October when his predecessor, Vicente Carrillo Fuentes was arrested.

In another victory for the Mexican government, Gulf cartel leader José Tiburcio Hernández Fuentes was arrested the same day in Reynosa, which prompted in a protracted street fight, involving guns and arson, between security forces and Hernández's henchmen.

The struggle, captured on smartphone cameras by locals, was dramatic. Hernández's gunmen set up blockades of burnt cars, buses and trailers during the hours of fighting.

Downfall. For many years, Juárez cartel was feared for its extreme violence and known for converting the city of Juarez into the world's one-time murder capital as the drug organization engaged in a turf battle with rival Sinaloa cartel.

More recently, however, drug cartels have fragmented and lost their power, partially thanks to Mexican governmental efforts to take out criminal leaders. Drug lord Servando "La Tuta" Gomez was arrested in February.

The dismantling of these drug organizations is "a basic fact of Mexico's security climate, and there is no reason to expect the phenomenon to slow," analyst Patrick Corcoran of research group Insight Crime, told the New York Times.

While these are unequivocally victories for the Mexican government in its complicated battle with cartels, the pushback needs to be consistent and multifaceted. Targeting drug lords and cartel leaders alone will not permanently dismantle entrenched, intractable organizations like the Juárez cartel; this can only be achieved by taking them on from all sides and not relenting until they are defeated.