MEXICO CITY - One of the top leaders of Mexico's brutal Gulf cartel was found dead, gunned down on a highway near the US border, the Mexican government said on Friday.
Samuel Flores Borrego, also known as "Metro 3," was found shot to death, along with the body of a local police official, in a pickup truck on the highway between the border city of Reynosa and the industrial hub Monterrey, the military and federal attorney general's office said in a joint statement.
"Initial evidence suggests that the facts resulted from an internal settling (of scores) within the criminal group," the statement said.
The US State Department has offered a $5 million (S$6 million) reward for information leading to his capture and said on its website that Flores was in charge of the Gulf cartel's operations in Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas.
The Gulf cartel has been engaged in a vicious battle in the region with its former paramilitary wing, the Zetas, over drug trafficking routes to the United States.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon mounted a forceful defense of his crackdown on drug cartels in his annual state of the nation address on Friday.
Calderon is trying hard to maintain public support for his battle with drug gangs ahead of national elections next year.
More than 42,000 people have died in less than five years as violence escalated.
Security forces have captured or killed many senior traffickers.
Calderon says the violence is a sign of weakness in the gangs as they fight among themselves to dominate smuggling routes to the United States.