'El Chapo' chief financial operator captured in Mexico

The verdict could result in life behind bars for Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who was accused of smuggling tons of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana into the United States over a 25-year period (AFP Photo/ALFREDO ESTRELLA)

Mexico City (AFP) - Authorities have captured a man identified as the chief financial operator behind drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's empire, who they say laundered some $4 billion in the past decade, federal police reported Sunday.

"Groups of elite federal police and the Mexican Army arrested Juan Manuel Alvarez Inzunza, nicknamed 'El Rey Midas' ('King Midas') in Oaxaca," the police said in a statement.

According to investigators, the 34-year-old operated a network of companies and currency exchange centers through which some $300 to $400 million dollars passed each year on behalf of Guzman's Sinaloa cartel, for a total of more than $4 billion in a decade.

Alvarez Inzunza operated in Sinaloa and Jalisco states, but was in Oaxaca vacationing when he was detained, and was captured without any "need to shoot off firearms and without putting other citizens at risk," federal police added.

Authorities had put out an order for Alvarez Inzunza's provisional detention, so that he can be extradited to the United States at the request of a federal court in Washington.

Alvarez Inzunza's laundering operations extended across Mexico's border into Colombia, Panama and the United States, authorities said.

The detainee was transferred to Mexico City, where he was handed over to anti-drug prosecutors from the attorney general's office.

The Sinaloa cartel is considered one of Mexico's most powerful drug gangs and was led by Guzman, who was captured in January after escaping through a hole in his jail cell's shower in July.

Guzman has escaped twice from maximum-security prisons.

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