Teodoro Garcia Simental, considered one of Mexico's most brutal drug lords, was captured early Tuesday in Baja, California. Experts say the arrest, hailed as a success by the Drug Enforcement Agency, will likely increase the already rampant violence in Tijuana.
The drug lord, known as "El Teo," is connected to the deaths of at least 300 people and is believed to have ordered his rivals beheaded or dissolved in caustic soda.
"He has been extremely viscious in how he has run Tijuana," said former federal prosecutor John Kirby who has seen a number of drug cartel arrests over the years.
Kirby feels the arrest, a major blow to the operation, could still be dangerous.
"If they start taking out king pins like this, what happens is you lose the expertise, you lose the relationships with the Colombians or whoever it is," he said. "It just makes it more difficult."
"The Mexicans are arresting people who are important enough that over the long term, they're going to make a difference," he said.
Garcia joined the Arellano-Felix drug cartel in 1995 and rose up through the ranks. He was tracked for more than six months by police in Mexico with the help of U.S. drug agents.
In Garcia's arrest, police report that they seized rifles, laptop, computers and more than $35,000 in U.S. and Mexican currency.
Some of the victims of the bloodshed in Tijuana have been civilians from the U.S.
A teenage San Diego high school student was gunned down and killed in his car in an upscale neighborhood on Jan. 4. An El Monte school board member was kidnapped and killed while visiting his wife's family in Mexico over the Christmas holiday. On Dec. 15, 2009, a Logan Heights woman was shot and killed while having dinner with her husband in a small seafood restaurant in the Mesa de Otay section of Tijuana.
In August, the U.S. State Department renewed a travel alert for Americans heading to Mexico stating, ""It is imperative that travelers understand the risks of travel to Mexico, how best to avoid dangerous situations, and who to contact if one becomes a crime victim."