Crime and Violence

Second in command of Beltrán Leyva Organization arrested in Mexico City

Arnoldo Villa Sánchez. Photo: Reuters, Secretaría de Gobernación.
Arnoldo Villa Sánchez. Photo: Reuters, Secretaría de Gobernación.

04/17/14 (written by dpera) — National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido García announced on April 16 that Arnoldo Villa Sánchez, also known as René Calderon Sánchez, had been arrested. Villa Sánchez was considered the second in command and head of security of the Beltrán Leyva Organization (BLO). He was detained by Federal Police (Policía Federal, PF) in Mexico City’s upscale neighborhood of La Condesa, along with his bodyguard Augusto Román Bahema. Officers also found five packets containing presumed synthetic drugs, two guns, fraudulent identification cards, and radio-communication equipment in Villa Sánchez’s car.

The operation leading to Villa Sánchez’s arrest took shape following a September 2013 bust in Mexico City during which Federal Police in collaboration with the Attorney General’s Office for Special Investigations on Organized Crime (Subprocuraduría Especializada en Investigación en Delincuencia Organizada de la Procuraduría General de la República, SEIDO) seized 265 kilograms of cocaine that Villa Sánchez was allegedly responsible for trafficking. According to Commissioner Rubido, information gathered then, along with recent investigations “led [authorities] to anticipate [Villa Sánchez’s] arrival in La Condesa on April 15 for a meeting with other key members of the [Beltrán Leyva] organization.” For that meeting, he continued, the BLO “had implemented a clandestine watch guard operation at various strategic locations” to keep lookout. Nevertheless, Villa Sánchez and bodyguard Román Bahema were arrested without shots being fired.

Villa Sánchez became the Chief of Security for the Beltrán Leyva Organization in 2009 after being recognized for his “aggressiveness and violence,” writes Proceso. Reports indicate that he was one of the principle distributors of drugs in Mexico City, but was also active in Chiapas, his home state of Guerrero, Puebla, and Tlaxcala. Héctor Beltrán Leyva, who still remains at large, is the presumed leader of the BLO.

Villa Sánchez’s arrest comes during a string in recent months of major kingpin takedowns by the Peña Nieto administration, including three of four leaders of the Knights Templar Organization (Caballeros Templarios, KTO), Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán of the Sinaloa Cartel, and two Gulf Cartel leaders, among others. As Justice in Mexico notes in its recent report, “Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis Through 2013,” President Enrique Peña Nieto seems to be following in the footsteps of predecessor President Felipe Calderón’s (2006-2012) security “kingpin” strategy. Calderón focused on targeting the top leaders and drug bosses of criminal organizations in an effort to dismantle the drug cartels and reduce the rates of homicide and illegal activity throughout Mexico. While Peña Nieto initially promised to break from that strategy, the high number of kingpin takedowns since he took office in 2012 seems to indicate otherwise.


Heinle, et. al. “Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis Through 2013.” Justice in Mexico. April 15, 2014.

Fausset, Richard and Cecilia Sanchez. “Beltran Leyva cartel figure and a Michoacan mayor arrested in Mexico.” Los Angeles Times. April 16, 2014.

Redacción. “Detienen a Segundo del Cártel de los Beltrán Leyva en La Condesa.” Proceso. April 16, 2014.

Quiroz, Carlos. “Cae Segundo al mando de los Beltrán Leyva.” Excélsior. April 17, 2014.

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