MEXICO CITY — The son and alleged second-in-command of the leader of Mexico’s most violent drug cartel was captured in the western state of Jalisco, National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido said Tuesday.
The suspect, Ruben Oseguera Gonzalez, 25, was born in California and holds dual US-Mexican citizenship, Rubido said.
Oseguera bears the nickname ‘‘el Menchito,’’ the diminutive of his father’s nickname. His father, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, is the alleged leader of the Jalisco New Generation cartel and is nicknamed ‘‘Mencho,’’ a phonetic derivation of his first name.
Rubido said the younger Oseguera served as second in command of the cartel and was captured with an assault rifle that was inscribed ‘‘CJNG’’ — the cartel’s initials in Spanish — followed by a number ‘‘2.’’ The rifle had ‘‘Menchito’’ inscribed on the other side, Rubido said.
Soldiers and federal police captured Oseguera in the Guadalajara suburb of Zapopan. Rubido said he was accompanied by his brother-in-law, who was also arrested, but they had no bodyguards.
Rubido said Oseguera had recently undergone a nose operation, and a photo of the suspect showed his nose stuffed with what appeared to be cotton wadding. It was unclear whether the suspect was trying to change his physical appearance.
It is at least the second time that the younger Oseguera has been captured. Federal forces arrested him in January 2014, and he was held for almost a year on weapons, drug, and money-laundering charges. A court ordered him released in January 2015, but it was not clear why.
The Jalisco cartel is blamed for some of the bloodiest and boldest attacks on federal forces in years. The gang was implicated in an ambush that killed 15 state police officers in April and in a May 1 attack in which a rocket launcher shot down an army helicopter, killing 10.
Federal forces last month killed 42 suspects believed to be affiliated with the gang on a ranch in Michoacan state, which borders Jalisco.
In just a few years, New Generation has grown from a small branch of the powerful Sinaloa cartel to one of Mexico’s strongest criminal groups in its own right, according to the US Treasury Department, whose Office of Foreign Assets Control maintains a ‘‘black list’’ of drug trafficking organizations.
New Generation’s quick rise reflects a rapidly changing organized-crime landscape in Mexico as the government targets top leaders of established cartels. More than any other criminal group, New Generation has taken advantage of the government strategy, strengthening and grabbing territory as its rivals are weakened.
The Zetas cartel was once considered Mexico’s most violent, but arrests of its top leadership have lowered the gang’s profile.