01/20/12 – The Mexican Ministry of Public Security (Secretaría de Seguridad Pública, SSP) announced today the capture of Eduardo Ávila Ojeda, 34, in Culiacán, which is in northern Mexico. Ávila, known as “El Lalo,” is one of the Sinaloa cartel’s top arms smugglers. SSP called Ávila “one of the main introducers to the country of firearms, cartridges and explosives.” SSP also reported that Ávila’s capture was the result of intelligence gathered from the December arrest of Ramiro Rivera Rendon, “El Ramy,” of the Sinaloa cartel.
The capture was relatively quiet for a high profile arms trafficker for the Sinaloa cartel. Ávila was found with three cell phones, three credit cards, and two driver’s licenses issued by the Sinaloa government, as well as four bank deposit receipts, photographs, and a ticket from the Federal Electoral Institute (Instituto Federal Electoral, IFE). After the capture, Ávila was transferred to Mexico City and handed over to the Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR).
The news of the top Sinaloa cartel’s arms trafficker comes at the same time that the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’s (ATF) infamous “Fast and Furious” fiasco endures more criticism and headlines. Yesterday, an Arizona federal prosecutor subpoenaed to testify to Congress about the program claimed Fifth Amendment protections prevent him from testifying as it would be ‘self-incriminating.’ The “Fast and Furious” plot was decried for allowing “gunwalking” to Mexico and supplying an estimated 2,000 firearms to Mexican cartels, including AK-47 assault rifles. Since the break of the scandal in March 2011, Mexican President Felipe Calderón has maintained that the weapons used by drug traffickers overwhelmingly come from the United States through illegal trafficking.