Mexico‘s most-wanted drug lord who ‘stewed’ his victims alive in burning oil barrels is captured with $2million in cash
- Trevino Morales, known as ‘Z-40’ was caught in Nuevo Laredo
- Trademark murder method was ‘the stew’ – burning men alive in barrels
- Crimes include murder of 72 migrants in 2010 and massacre of 192 in 2011
- Zetas known for brutal crimes in Mexico, including mass slaughters
- His arrest is hailed a boon for President Enrique Pena Nieto
By Associated Press PUBLISHED:16 July 2013
Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, the notoriously brutal leader of the feared Zetas drug cartel, was captured before dawn Monday in the first major blow against an organized crime leader by a Mexican administration struggling to drive down persistently high levels of violence.
Trevino Morales, 40, was captured by Mexican Marines who intercepted a pickup truck with $2 million in cash on a dirt road in the countryside outside the border city of Nuevo Laredo, which has long served as the Zetas’ base of operations.
The truck was halted by a Marine helicopter and Trevino Morales was taken into custody along with a bodyguard and an accountant and eight guns, government spokesman Eduardo Sanchez told reporters.
Captured: This mug shot released by Mexico’s Interior Ministry on shows Zetas drug cartel leader Miguel Angel Trevino Morales after his arrest
Mug shots: Trevino Morales was captured by Mexican Marines before dawn Monday who intercepted a pickup truck with $2 million in cash on a dirt road outside the border city of Nuevo Laredo
Armed and dangerous: The cartels are armed to the teeth guard their hauls of weapons and ammunition
Sanchez said the Marines had been watching rural roads between the Texas border states of Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas for signs of Trevino Morales, who is charged with murder, torture, kidnapping and other crimes.
The Zetas leader and his alleged accomplices were flown to Mexico City, where they are expected to eventually be tried in a closed system that usually takes years to prosecute cases, particularly high-profile ones.
Trevino Morales, known as ‘Z-40,’ is uniformly described as one of the two most powerful cartel heads in Mexico.
Massacre: Three years ago the bodies of 72 people, believed to all be migrants, were found at a rural ranch in northern Mexico. The victims were shot by the members of the Zetas cartel known for exploiting vulnerable people
Ruthless: Morales, left, as a younger man, is believed to have masterminded the massacre in 2010 after which the killers piled the bodies on top of each other and left them to rot, right
As the leader of a corps of special forces defectors, he went to work for drug traffickers that soon splintered off into their own cartel in 2010 and metastasized across Mexico, expanding from drug dealing into extortion, kidnapping and human trafficking.
BURNINGS AND MASSACRES: MIGUEL MORALES AND HIS REIGN OF TERROR
Even before rising to leader of the feared Zetas cartel in October last year, Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, has had a reputation as one of the most ruthless, bloodthirsty and dangerous drugs lords in Mexico’s history.
He is believed to be responsible, both personally and by proxy, for the deaths of hundreds of immigrant slaves and rival criminals – many of whom died in unimaginable pain.
Reports from within the organization claim that Morales enjoyed driving around the city in a car and pointing at people randomly and saying, ‘kill him… kill her.’
He is reportedly responsible of coordinating several violent attacks throughout Mexico, including the murder of 72 migrants in 2010 and the massacre of 193 people a year later in San Fernando, Tamaulipas.
His trademark method of murder became known as the ‘guiso’, or cook-out, where victims are stuffed into an oil barrel, doused with gasoline, and set on fire to burn alive.
He developed the method to challenge other cartel hitmen who competed to come up with the most terrifying and creative ways of killing and disposing of enemies in a drug war thought to have claimed the lives of up to 100,000 people since 2006.
They included Teodoro Garcia Simental famed for having the corpses of tortured rivals dissolved in baths of acid.
Another method of fear-mongering, favoured by Morales as well as other cartels, was decapitating rivals and hanging their bodies from bridges or monuments, often with warning signs hung around their necks.
Along the way, the Zetas authored some of the worst atrocities of Mexico’s drug war, leaving hundreds of bodies beheaded on roadsides or hanging from bridges, earning a reputation as perhaps the most terrifying of the country’s numerous ruthless cartels.
On Trevino Morales’ watch, 72 Central and South American migrants were slaughtered by the Zetas in the northern town of San Fernando in 2010, authorities said. By the following year, federal officials announced finding 193 bodies buried in San Fernando, most belonging to migrants kidnapped off buses and killed by the Zetas for various reasons, including their refusal to work as drug mules.
Trevino Morales is charged with ordering the kidnapping and killing of the 265 migrants, Sanchez said.
President Enrique Pena Nieto came into office promising to drive down levels of homicide, extortion and kidnapping but has struggled to make a credible dent in crime figures.
His pledge to focus on citizen safety over other crimes has sparked worries among U.S. authorities that he would ease back on predecessor Felipe Calderon’s U.S.-backed strategy aimed above all at decapitating drug cartels.
The arrest of Trevino, a man widely blamed for both massive northbound drug trafficking and the deaths of untold scores of Mexicans and Central American migrants, will almost certainly earn praise from Pena Nieto’s U.S. and Mexican critics alike.
Trevino Morales’ capture adds to the long list of Zetas’ leaders who have been arrested or killed in recent years, including Zeta head Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, whose fatal shooting by authorities last year left Trevino Morales in charge.
‘There continues to be the perception that capturing this type of individual has a strategic value and the logic persists that it’s preferable to fragment criminal groups and reduce them in size. On this point there isn’t much change,’ said Alejandro Hope, a former member of Mexico’s domestic intelligence service.
The debilitation of the Zetas has been widely seen as strengthening the country’s most-wanted man, Sinaloa cartel head Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, who has overseen a vicious turf war with the Zetas from hideouts believed to lie in rugged western Mexico.
‘El Chapo is greatly strengthened because he will now have access to the crown jewel of narco-trafficking, Nuevo Laredo,’ said George Grayson, an expert on the Zetas and professor of government at the College of William & Mary.
Shocking: Innocent women and children and babies have been killed in Mexico’s brutal drug wars
Trevino Morales is expected to be succeeded by his brother, Omar, a former low-ranking turf boss seen as far weaker than his older brother.
Miguel Angel Trevino Morales began his career as a teenage gofer for the Los Tejas gang, which controlled most crime in his hometown across the border from Laredo, Texas. He soon graduated from washing cars and running errands to running drugs across the border, and was recruited into the Matamoros-based Gulf cartel.
Trevino Morales’ brother, sister and mother lived in Dallas but he had many relatives around Nuevo Laredo and, while moving frequently to avoid authorities, he was believed to often return to his hometown, the U.S. official said.
Trevino Morales joined the Zetas, a group of Mexican special forces deserters who defected to work as hit men and bodyguards for the Gulf cartel in the late 1990s.
Gruesome drug war: In September 2011 two trucks were abandoned after one of them spilled 35 bodies of men and women belonging to the Los Zetas gang killed by a rival cartel. Morales and his henchmen set out to exact bitter revenge for the slaughter
Cache: Weapons belonging to the Zetas cartel are displayed after they were found at the mass grave. The cartel has earned a brutal reputation in Mexico and across Central America and is controlled by former special forces soldiers
Stories about the brutality of ‘El Cuarenta,’ or ’40’ as Trevino Morales became known, quickly become well-known among his men, his rivals and Nuevo Laredo citizens terrified of incurring his anger.
GORY VIOLENCE AND WHOLESALE TERROR: HOW THE ZETAS BECAME MEXICO’S MOST FEARED CARTEL
Through a campaign of merciless violence and wholesale terror, The Zetas have grown to become the most feared of all the drug gangs in Mexico.
Founded by former soldiers of an elite army unit in 1999, they have carved out their own smuggling empire, expanded massively across Mexico and diversified into kidnapping, extortion and theft of crude oil.
They are also responsible for some of Mexico’s bloodiest massacres, biggest jail breaks and fiercest attacks on authorities and earned their notoriety for brutality by becoming the first to publicly display their beheaded rivals, most infamously two police officers in April 2006 in the resort city of Acapulco.
The severed heads were found on spikes outside a government building with a message signed ‘Z’ that said: ‘So that you learn to respect.’
Other atrocities believe to have been carried out by the Zetas – many of which committed under the orders of Trevino Morales himself – include:
- The 2008 Morelia grenade attacks that saw eight were killed and over 100 injured
- The 2010 San Fernando massacre where 72 migrants were found dead
- The 2010 slaughter of 13 people when gunmen stormed a teenager’s birthday party in the city of Ciudad Juárez
- The 2011 San Fernando massacre, where 193 people were slaughtered
- The massacre of 27 farmers in Guatemala
- The 2011 Monterrey casino attack that saw 52 people murdered
- A prison brawl that saw 31 Gulf cartel inmates killed at The Altamira jail
- The 2012 Apodaca prison riot, where a further 44 Gulf cartel inmates were killed and 37 Zetas escaped from prison
- The Durango massacres that led to the death of 249 people in 2011
One technique favored by Trevino Morales was the ‘guiso,’ or stew, in which enemies would be placed in 55-gallon drums and burned alive.
Others who crossed the commander would be beaten with wooden planks, the official said.
Around 2005, Trevino Morales was promoted to boss of the Nuevo Laredo territory, or ‘plaza’ and given responsibility for fighting off the Sinaloa cartel’s attempt to seize control of its drug-smuggling routes, according to U.S. and Mexican officials.
He orchestrated a series of killings on the U.S. side of the border, several by a group of young U.S. citizens who gunned down their victims on the streets of the American city.
In 2006, the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas defeated the Sinaloa cartel in Nuevo Laredo, a victory that emboldened them as they began spreading south to towns and cities that had never before seen extensive organized crime.
They set up criminal networks to control transit routes for drugs, migrants, extortion, kidnapping, contraband of pirated DVDs and CDs and countless other criminal activities, intimidating local residents and committing gruesome murders as an example to the uncooperative.
According to the U.S. official, Trevino Morales was in charge of Nuevo Leon, Piedras Negras and other areas until March 2007, when he was sent to the city of Veracruz following the death of a leading Zeta in a gun battle there.
That same year, Trevino Morales and Lazcano began pushing for independence from the Gulf cartel after cartel head Osielo Cardenas Guillen’s extradition to the U.S.
The Zetas split from the Gulf cartel and by 2008 had operations in 28 major Mexican cities, according to an analysis by Grupo Savant, a Washington-based security think tank.
In February 2008, Lazcano sent Trevino Morales to Guatemala, where he was responsible for eliminating local competitors and establish Zetas control of smuggling routes. Trevino Morales was then named by Lazcano as national commander of the Zetas across Mexico despite his lack of military background, earning him the resentment of some of the original ex-military members of the Zetas, the official said.
The promotion involved Trevino Morales in virtually every decision by the Zetas, the official said.
Trevino rose to the top of the Zetas last year after leader Lazcano died in a shootout with Mexican marines in Coahuila state.
Trevino Morales was indicted on drug trafficking and weapons charges in New York in 2009 and Washington in 2010, and the U.S. government issued a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest.
According to the indictments, Trevino Morales coordinated the shipment of hundreds of pounds of cocaine and marijuana each week from Mexico into the U.S., much of which had passed through Guatemala. He also moved bulk shipments of dollar bills back into Mexico, the documents say.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2364911/Zetas-drug-lord-Miguel-Angel-Trevino-Morales-captured-northern-Mexico.html#ixzz2ZCtpFQWK
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