Sinaloa drug cartel member
Sinaloa drug cartel member Jaime Antonio M.E. 62, arrested by Spanish police Screengrab

A Mexican drug lord who dispatched a total of 148 tons of cocaine from Colombia to Mexico and the United States in five years has been arrested in Madrid.

A member of Mexico's ruthless Sinaloa narco-trafficking cartel, Jaime Antonio M.E. , 62, was detained by the Spanish civil guard at Madrid international airport on his way out to his homeland. He had spent a week travelling across Spain to establish business relations, according to reports.

The interpol issued an arrest warrant for the man, who is being investigated by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for the shipment of some 148 tons of cocaine, 150 tons of marijuana and 30 tons of ephedrine from Colombia to Mexico and the US. A total of 32 shipments containing six tons of cocaine each were smuggled in collaboration with three different Colombian criminal organisations.

The arrest was conducted jointly by the Spanish civil guard and the American DEA. The suspect has been taken into custody by the High Court which will extradite him to American soil, a process that could last about a month and a half.

Sinaloa is one of the most powerful and feared Mexican drug cartel. The arrest in February of the leader El Chapo 'Shorty' Guzman delivered a big blow to the organisation, which takes its name from the remote western state where Guzman was born.

The cartel exports huge volumes of cocaine, marijuana, heroin and methamphetamine to America and is believed to be responsible for half of the illegal narco-traffic that crosses the border every year.

Guzman was called "the world's most powerful drug trafficker" by the US Treasury Administration, which offered $5m dollar reward for information that could help his capture.

The structure of Sinaloa is similar to terrorist organisations like al-Qaida, with a network of cells that operate loosely from the leadership. It is considered a traditional drug cartel that centres its activity on the production and export of narcotics, while newer groups such as the Zetas and the Knights Templar also specialise in other crimes (extortion, human trafficking, kidnapping for ransom).