Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mexican security forces kill Los Zetas leader in gun battle

Another strategic victory for outgoing Calderón administration

*Update below*
Guadalajara -
Mexico's Secretary of Marines and Naval Forces has announced the death of the leader of the Los Zetas cartel, perhaps the country's most violent drug trafficking and organized crime group.

The Zetas have distinguished themselves by unparalleled brutality in dealing with competitor cartels and innocent victims alike in Mexico's drug war.

Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano was killed Sunday afternoon in a shootout with Mexican marines in Progreso, a town in Coahuila state, which borders Texas.

Mexico had offered a 30 million peso reward (about $2.35 million USD) for Lazcano's capture, and the United States $5 million.

Marine and naval forces in this country are crack strike force units, and have taken out many drug criminals during the six year offensive launched by president Felipe Calderón in December 2006. The outgoing PAN leader implemented a National Security Strategy, the cornerstone of which is reliance upon military forces rather than local police in going after cartel bosses. Mexico's incoming president, Enrique Peña Nieto, has promised to follow essentially the same plan after he takes office on Dec. 1.

According to press reports, at about 1:30 p.m. a military patrol was conducting a reconnaissance mission near Progreso, in response to citizen reports of heavily armed men in the area. Upon arrival the patrol was attacked with small arms fire and grenades. The marines returned the fire, killing two Zetas. One soldier was slightly wounded.

One of the dead was later identified by fingerprints as the 37 year old Lazcano, purportedly the top boss of Los Zetas. His body was taken to a local funeral home by military units, according to a CNN report.

News agencies have reported that Lazcano's remains were later stolen from the mortuary. There are conflicting reports of what happened. Family members may have arrived Sunday evening to demand the body, or an armed commando squad - presumably Zetas - may have recovered its fallen leader. Officials say they don't know who took his body, or where it is. But the military released a photo of Lazcano's face, taken after the gun battle, to confirm his death. It has been widely reproduced by the media here.

Marines seized various weapons at the scene, including a grenade launcher with 12 grenades and a rocket launcher with two rockets. Ammunition stockpiles were also taken into custody.

In a morning press conference in Washington, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder praised Mexican forces for their continued success in dispatching cartel bosses during the 70 month old drug war.

Oct. 10 - Confusion, uncertainty after reported death of "Zeta # 1"

Oct. 12 - To satisfy disbelievers and naysayers, death photos of Lazcano have now been distributed, courtesy of Univision.

July 15, 2013 - Top Los Zeta boss, Z-40, arrested in Nuevo Laredo

Will Enrique Peña Nieto abandon the drug war and make peace with the cartels?
Mexican marines arrest top financial aid to Z-40, the # 2 Zeta in command
Top boss of Los Zetas arrested in Veracruz - said to be co-founder of dreaded cartel

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