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La Kena: Notorious Mexican cartel leader captured – BBC News

By George Wright

Jose Alberto Garcia Vilano, alias La Kena or Ciclon 19, leads the Los Ciclones

The leader of a faction of the notorious Gulf Cartel in Mexico has been arrested, local media reports.

José Alberto García Vilano, also known as La Kena or Ciclon 19, allegedly leads the violent Los Ciclones cell.

His group is accused of kidnapping four US citizens in March last year, killing two of them.

Vilano was reportedly captured in a shopping plaza in the city of Monterrey, after information about his whereabouts was leaked to officials.

Unverified footage on social media purports to show Vilano and his associates being marched through a mall by armed police.

The four US citizens were kidnapped in the border city of Matamoros, which lies directly across from the Texan town of Brownsville, in the United States.

Matamoros is caught between warring factions of the Gulf Cartel, as they battle for control of the so-called plazas – the drug smuggling routes north into the US.

The four Americans drove over the border and into the troubled town for cosmetic surgery, according to relatives. It is not uncommon for Americans to travel to Mexico for medical services, where procedures are far cheaper but sometimes also riskier.

Video showed the group being loaded into a pickup truck by heavily armed men. One is manhandled on to the vehicle while the others appear to be unconscious and are dragged to the truck.

Their ordeal lasted for four days.

Two of them – Zindell Brown and Shaeed Woodard – were killed, as was a 33-year-old Mexican woman, who was a bystander.

A motive for the attack has not been confirmed, however Mexican authorities were reported to be investigating whether the group had been mistaken for rival cartel members.

Soon after the incident, another splinter cell of the Gulf Cartel, the Scorpions Group, were said to have apologised for the kidnapping and turned over five men it said were responsible.

Since 2022, the Tamaulipas state government, where Matamoros is located, has had a 2,500,000 peso ($145,000; £115,000) reward for information leading to Vilano’s arrest.

He was also reportedly wanted by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

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