Dreaded Mexican drug lord 'Z-40' arrested
Capture of drug lord seen as huge victory for new president
Mexican drug lord Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, more famously known as "Z-40" has finally been captured. Accused of mass killings, drug-running and extortion, Morales was arrested in a dawn raid outside his hometown of Nuevo Laredo, near the United States border.
Miguel Angel Trevino Morales is the leader of one of Mexico's most notorious drug cartels, the Los Zetas.
Government Spokesman Eduardo Sanchez said the Marines had been watching the area for signs of Trevino Morales, the leader of one of the two most powerful cartel heads in Mexico. Los Zetas is composed of a corps of Special Forces defectors who created their own cartel in 2010 and expanded from drug dealing into extortion, kidnapping and human trafficking.
The arrest is seen as a huge victory for Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto. "In the past several years these leaders were usually killed when they [police] were attempting their capture and all the intelligence was lost," Al Jazeera's Rachel Levin says.
"One of his younger brothers is slated to take over but the Zetas have suffered setbacks and they are not as powerful as they once were." Rival gangs could now test the strength of the Zetas by targeting the cartel's territory.
Trevino Morales' arrest comes eight months after Mexican troops killed his predecessor, Heriberto Lazcano, in a gunfight in the northern state of Coahuila. His corpse was stolen afterwards.
Some 70,000 people have been killed in cartel-related violence since the start of 2007. Many of the worst atrocities have been blamed on the Zetas. A massacre of dozens of migrants in northern Mexico in 2010 and the dumping of 49 decapitated bodies near the city of Monterrey last year have all been linked to the cartel.
Trevino Morales began his career as a teenage runner for the Los Tejas gang, which operated in his home town of Nuevo Laredo, graduating to becoming a drug-runner into the U.S. He was later recruited into the Gulf cartel when it took over in the border territory.
Joining the Zetas in the late 1990s, Trevino Morales became notorious for his brutality.
"If you get called to a meeting with him, you're not going to come out of that meeting," a U.S. law-enforcement official said.
One of his favorite torture methods was the "guiso," or stew, in which an enemy would be placed in a 55-gallon drum and burned alive. Others who crossed the commander would be beaten with wooden planks.
Trevino Morales is wanted for crimes in the U.S., including drug trafficking and weapons charges. The U.S. government had offered a $5m reward for information leading to his arrest.
© 2013, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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