By Tom Ramstack

Guadalajara, Mexico

Mexican soldiers arrested the alleged financial manager of the deadly Sinaloa drug cartel.

The man, Jose Sanchez Villalobos, also is wanted in the United States on cocaine trafficking charges.

A statement from the Mexican defense ministry said Sanchez is the "alleged financial operator" of the Sinaloa cartel in the states of Baja California and Jalisco.

He was arrested in a suburb of Guadalajara, Mexico's second largest city, where the Sinaloa is known to have been active recently.

The cartel is led by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, whom the U.S. government has called the world's most powerful drug gang leader.

Guzman, who is a fugitive after escaping from a maximum security prison in 2001, is listed by Forbes magazine as one of the world's wealthiest people.

Sanchez, the man arrested this week, is presumed to have been associated with the seizure by police on Nov. 18 of $15.3 million in cash from a car in Tijuana, across the border from San Diego. It was the third largest amount of money confiscated by police in their five-year war against drug cartels.

Police traced the money back to Sanchez to make the arrest this week. He was living under a fake name when he was arrested "with a goal of deceiving the action of authorities," the government statement said.

Sanchez was turned over to the organized crime division of the Mexican Attorney General's Office for prosecution.

In previous cash seizures, police found more than $207 million in a Mexico City home owned by Zhenli Ye Gon in March 2007. He is a Mexican of Chinese origin.

In September 2008, the Mexican military seized $26.2 million during a law enforcement operation in Culiacan, the capital of the state of Sinaloa.

The Mexican government has deployed more than 50,000 soldiers to fight against drug cartels in a war that started in December 2006 when President Felipe Calderon ordered the military to help police.


Copyright Copyright © 2012copy; The Miami Herald Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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