MEXICO CITY - Federal police have arrested a drug cartel suspect they believe was behind a plot to kill President Felipe Calderon in retaliation for his crackdown on organized crime, the head of the anti-drug unit said Monday.
Government intelligence learned that Dimas Diaz - the alleged financial operator of the Pacific cartel - was behind a threat on Calderon's life, Ramon Pequeno said.
The investigation into Diaz was opened last year after a series of arrests and seizures from the gang, also known as the Sinaloa cartel, police said. But they did not say when Calderon was threatened or how they uncovered the assassination plot.
Diaz was arrested with four other alleged drug suspects Sunday in Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state, where the gang is based.
The threat was likely a response to a 2007 cocaine bust, one of Mexico's largest, in which 26 tons of drugs coming from Colombia to the cartel were seized in the port of Manzanillo, Pequeno said.
Calderon brushed off the alleged plot as one of many against him because of his tenacity in fighting the country's powerful cartels.
"It would not be the first nor the last time that there is talk about some assassination attempt on my life," Calderon said, speaking to reporters at the end of a swift North American Leaders' Summit, an annual gathering launched under former President George W. Bush.
Thugs are reacting that way, he said, because "they know we're winning day by day."
Since taking office in 2006, Calderon has made the drug war a centerpiece of his administration, sending more than 45,000 troops to hotspots to take on the deeply entrenched gangs.
Cartels have responded with a vengeance, unleashing unprecedented bloodshed. Drug violence has killed more than 11,000 people in the last 2½ years. Federal officials say most of the deaths are smugglers killed by rivals fighting over lucrative drug routes into the United States.
Associated Press writer Olga R. Rodriguez contributed to this report from Guadalajara, Mexico.