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Mexican Drug 'Chief' Linked To 350 Murders
Police in Mexico have arrested a suspected lieutenant of the country's most wanted drugs lord on suspicion of murdering more than 350 people.
Mario Nunez, a former police officer, is thought to be the operations chief of Joaquin 'Shorty' Guzman in Chihuahua, a state bordering the US which has been dominated by drug-related violence over the past few years.
"This person (Nunez) is related to, and believed to be responsible for, the murder of more than 350 people recovered from 23 hidden mass graves," said government national security spokesman Eduardo Sanchez.
Guzman heads the Sinaloa Cartel, which is widely regarded as the country's most powerful drug-running organisation.
In February it was reported that he had been shot dead but this was never confirmed.
US court documents say Guzman hired Nunez and gave him the job of snatching the smuggling corridors into the US from the local Juarez Cartel, through ordering gangs of hitmen to carry out killings that included mutilations and decapitations.
The Juarez Cartel lost ground to the Sinaloa organisation in a three-year battle that wound down in 2011.
But Nunez's criminal career continued, authorities say.
The Mexican government claims Nunez's power struggle with another drug lord in 2011 resulted in the killings of the 350 people unearthed in the mass graves in the northern state of Durango.
"Much of the violence seen in the states of Chihuahua and Durango is partially because of the actions carried out by this man," Mr Sanchez said.
Nunez, 39, is wanted in the US on drug-trafficking charges in a federal court in Texas.
The Mexican government said he could face up to 40 years in prison in Mexico.
It was not immediately clear whether there was a US extradition request for him.