MEXICO CITY — Mexican security forces killed reputed Gulf cartel boss Antonio Ezequiel Cardenas Guillen, one of Mexico's most wanted drug lords, in a spectacular, hours-long gunbattle Friday in the northern border city of Matamoros, officials said.
Guillen, also known as "Tony Tormenta" or "Tony the Storm," is the brother of imprisoned former leader Osiel Cardenas Guillen and is believed to have run the powerful cartel along with Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sanchez.
Federal security spokesman Alejandro Poire said Guillen died in a clash across the border from Brownsville, Texas, that also claimed the lives of three gunmen and two marines. A reporter with a local newspaper also died in the shoot-out.
Guillen has been indicted in the United States on drug trafficking charges and U.S. authorities had offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the 48-year-old's arrest. Mexican authorities had offered a $2 million reward.
His death is a blow to Mexico's second-most-powerful cartel and a major boost to President Felipe Calderon's war on drug cartels.
"Today, we have taken another meaningful step toward the dismantling of criminal groups that do so much damage to our country," Poire said.
Guillen's brother, Osiel, led the Gulf cartel until his arrest by Mexican authorities in 2003. Osiel Cardenas Guillen was extradited to the United States in 2007 and sentenced to 25 years in prison by a Texas court in February.
Northeast Mexico, an area once controlled by the Gulf cartel, has seen an increase in violence with daylight shoot-outs and dozens of beheaded corpses dumped in public areas due to a turf battle between the cartel and the Zetas, a drug gang made up of former Mexican special-forces soldiers.