Here are the basics of the arrest from a CBS News report:
"A top drug cartel figure wanted by the U.S. government since 2008 was arrested Saturday in Mexico, CBS News reports. Two law enforcement sources told CBS News that Mario Ramirez- Trevino, also known as Mario Pelon, was captured Saturday morning by Mexican authorities. Ramirez-Trevino is the head of Mexico's Gulf Cartel. The arrest took place at Ramirez-Trevino's house in northern Mexico between Rio Bravo and Reynosa near Mexico's border with Texas. Ramirez-Trevino, 51, was charged in a 2008 federal indictment on multiple drug violations. The State Department had been offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest or conviction." Link to Full Article
Analysis: The exact details of the arrest are coming from several different sources, so I'll try ot sum them up first. Mexico's Proceso magazine reported he was caught by elements of both the army and navy at a military checkpoint in Rio Bravo, Tamaulipas state. He was in possession of several weapons and there were at least ten helicopters involved in the operation. SEGOB confirmed his arrest this afternoon.
Ramirez didn't have the top job in the CDG for very long, although there were some high hopes for TCO reunification after his ascension into the top spot. He was very close with Jaime "El Hummer" Duran, one of the founding members of Los Zetas, and was the number two guy in charge of the Reynosa plaza for some time. After Los Zetas split off from the CDG, Ramirez stayed put. Although the analyses I've read conflict on this account, it appears that he aligned with Los Metros after the CDG internal split occurred in late 2010/early 2011. His boss was Samuel "Metro-3" Flores Borrego, who was executed by CDG rivals under the Rojos faction. After Mexican authorities captured the two top CDG leaders, Jorge "El Coss" Costilla Sánchez and Mario "El Gordo" Cárdenas Guillen, in quick succession last year, Ramirez assumed the top spot.
Not much information is publicly available about Ramirez, although BorderlandBeat has a great post on how he rose to power. As always with the arrest of a TCO leader, people want to know what will happen next - specifically, if the parts of Mexico where the TCO is dominant will experience more violence. Unfortunately, the areas of NE Tamaulipas where Ramirez was captured are already having issues with violence because of internal conflicts and battles with Los Zetas. The CDG was already in a delicate position of trying to reunify two factions that had been trying to kill each other for over two years. I don't think Ramirez was in charge long enough to heal those wounds, and from some reports I've read, the split was bad enough that relatively new ally the Sinaloa Federation was backing off a bit from it's support so as to avoid getting involved in the drama.
The CDG's structure has become much more fluid in the last several years, and the internal splits didn't help matters any. As troubled as they are, the TCO has had some solid victories in Veracruz and stayed relevant enough in parts of the Gulf Coast - certainly in their home base of Matamoros where they control the flow of drugs into south Texas. But some of these victories have been gained through the influence of outside factors, namely the support of the Federation and the arrests of major Zetas players combined with that TCO's own internal problems. Los Zetas are still reeling a bit from the arrest of leader Miguel "Z-40" Treviño Morales, so it's unclear if new top dog Omar/Alejandro Treviño is in a position to consolidate quickly and take advantage of the power vacuum, however temporary it might be.
Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán is in a trickier spot. Despite his TCO's size and power, he's feeling the effects of assaults by Los Zetas and La Familia Michoacana. Does he keep supporting the CDG and maintain their alliance to fight Los Zetas, or does he cut loose a ship that's possibly sinking and make his own move into Tamaulipas? It's a tempting thought for sure, seeing both Los Zetas and the CDG in compromised positions. And just like I posted after Z-40 was arrested, it's going to take a few days to see who steps up to fill Ramirez's spot (I prediction I can't make at this point) and a few weeks to see how much worse things can really get in NE Tamaulipas, Monterrey, and other parts of NE Mexico where the CDG has a presence. I'm very much looking forward to reading other analyses of the potential impact of his capture, and I'll be sure to update this post with other points of view as I review them.