Police in Mexico City have captured Damaso Lopez, thought to be a senior figure in the feared Sinaloa Cartel and a former right hand man of Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman.

Lopez - also known as 'El Licenciado' (the graduate) - was paraded by armoured soldiers outside an upmarket apartment block in Mexico City where he was captured on Tuesday (2 May). A few weeks earlier, he had been videoed eating a meal at a local restaurant.

Lopez was a former head of security at Puente Grande prison near Guadalajara and played a key role in helping El Chapo escape from jail in 2001. He then worked for El Chapo, who became a godfather to Lopez's son Serrano, the Guardian reported. He is accused of laundering money and distributing cocaine.

El Chapo, who escaped a second time from prison in 2015 and was interviewed by Hollywood star Sean Penn when in hiding, was recaptured in January 2016 and extradited to the USA in January 2017.

The Sinaloa Cartel is now thought to be controlled by his sons and their associates and Lopez is believed to have been fighting them for control of the syndicate.

According to federal officials, Lopez was in the capital to try to form an alliance with a rival group to take on El Chapo's sons. Internal fighting within the Sinaloa cartel contributed to 142 homicides in the state in March 2017, according to Noroeste newspaper. El Chapo's incarceration has resulted in a breakdown of the established order as rival groups try to seize control.

President Trump has promised the erection of a wall between the US and Mexico will stem the flow of drugs north. He has also issued executive orders to try and improve co-operation with foreign law enforcement agencies, Reuters reports.

Damaso Lopez Mexico drug cartels
Accused drug kingpin Damaso Lopez (C), nicknamed 'The Graduate', is escorted by police officers in Mexico City on 2 May REUTERS/Carlos Jasso