June 17, 2011
MEXICO CITY - Federal authorities detained a former police officer accused of leading the armed wing of the violent Juarez Cartel in northern Mexico, the government said Thursday.
Marco Antonio Guzman, who had several aliases including "El Brad Pitt," was captured Wednesday in the U.S. border state of Chihuahua along with two alleged accomplices, according to a federal police statement.
Guzman, 34, was brought to the Mexican capital Thursday and shown, handcuffed, to the news media.
Police said Guzman was involved in the June 15, 2010, car bomb explosion that killed a federal police officer and two civilians.
They also accuse him of being involved in drug-trafficking operations across Chihuahua. The state is one of the worst-affected areas of the drug war. It is the state of deadly Ciudad Juarez, where an estimated 3,100 people were killed in 2010 alone.
A federal official who was not authorized to speak on the record said Guzman's nickname "El Brad Pitt" comes from a disguise he wore when he served as a lookout for the Juarez cartel.
To go unnoticed, he tried to look like a tourist wearing his hair long, a baseball cap and a camera around his neck. According to the official, gang associates said Guzman looked like Pitt in a scene from the American film "Spy Game" about CIA agents, in which the actor wore a similar outfit.
The nickname apparently stuck.
Guzman had a $42,000 (500,000 pesos) reward for his capture, and may have been planning another such bombing; federal police said in a statement that he had been responsible for acquiring another load of explosives seized in Ciudad Juarez on April 25.
He also allegedly participated in a videotaped killing that was posted on a video-sharing site.
Also Thursday, federal police said they arrested a leader of the so-called "Zodiac" kidnapping gang, whose member used the signs of the zodiac as nicknames.
Suspect Dhither Camarillo Palafox, alias "Taurus," was arrested in the Caribbean coast resort of Cancun on Friday; alleged associates nicknamed "Sagittarius" and "Aquarius" were arrested in 2009. The group's other leader, nicknamed "Cancer," was detained in 2005.
The group allegedly carried out kidnappings in and around Mexico City.