Feb. 9 (UPI) -- Mexican marines arrested an alleged leader of Los Zetas drug cartel and for whom the United States has offered a $5 million reward, Mexican officials announced Friday.
Authorities arrested Jose Maria Guizar Valencia, also known as "Z 43" on Thursday in Mexico City.
Government Secretary Alfonso Navarrete praised the marines which, in coordination with intelligence agencies, made the arrest. Navarrete described Valencia as one of the 122 priority objectives for the federal government.
Valencia had been on the run since 2014 and faces multiple drug charges in the United States. The U.S. Department of State offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Valencia.
"Guizar Valencia is responsible for the importation of thousands of kilograms of cocaine and methamphetamine to the United States on a yearly basis," the State Department says on its website. "Los Zetas, under the command of Guizar-Valencia, have murdered an untold number of Guatemalan civilians during the systematic overtake of the Guatemalan border region with Mexico during recent years."
Valencia's arrest comes as Mexico deploys thousands of federal police officers throughout the country to combat drug-related homicides. Some 25,000 were killed in Mexico last year, the highest number in two decades.
"Most homicides are related to organized crime. They are committed by criminal groups competing for control over other criminal groups. All of it is related to the sale of drugs," Darwin Puc Acosta, chief of police in Cancun, told Al Jazeera.