(MEXICO CITY) — Authorities have arrested an alleged Zetas drug cartel leader nicknamed “El Loco,” AKA the Fool or the Crazy One, on charges that he dumped 49 headless bodies on a highway outside Monterrey, Mexico.
When the Mexican Army came to arrest Daniel Elizondo Jesus Ramirez, say authorities, he attempted to elude capture by shooting at troops and throwing a fragmentation grenade. Zetas commanders nicknamed The Shrimp and The Speaker have also been linked to the body dump, but officials have not yet apprehended them.
The mutilated bodies of 43 men and six women were found near Cadereyta, Mexico on May 13. Though the condition of the bodies made it difficult to identify any of them, some physical features and tattoos indicated that they may have been migrants from southern Mexico and Central America.
A graphic seven-minute video posted on the web last week allegedly showed gunmen dumping the bodies, and then flourishing a “narcobanner” “signed” by El Loco and two other alleged Zetas commanders.
The banner warned that the same fate would befall members of rival cartels, the police and the military. The video is still available on-line, though a version that was posted on YouTube has been removed. The first version that appeared on YouTube was posted by someone who claimed to be a Zeta.
After the bodies were discovered in Cadereyta, the Zetas posted new “narcobanners” throughout Northern Mexico condemning the murders, but Mexican officials claimed they had only done so to create confusion about responsibility for the deaths.
The Zetas, who dominate much of eastern and northern Mexico, are battling the Gulf cartel and the Sinaloa cartel for dominance in Nuevo Leon and other Mexican states. Founded by former members of the Mexican military, the Zetas have a reputation for violence.
During a press conference in Mexico City, Brig. General Edgar Ruiz Villegas Melendez alleged that “El Loco” had been told to dump the bodies in the town square of Cadereyta but instead chose to dump them on a nearby highway. Villegas claimed that Ramirez, who was arrested Sunday, had confessed to dumping the corpses and said he’d done so on the orders of Zeta leaders.
El Loco is also a suspect in the kidnapping, murder and dismembering of two women last year, one of them the girlfriend of an Army lieutenant. He was mistakenly reported killed during an operation to apprehend the alleged kidnapers. He sent a taunting message to the Mexican media that said, “I’m still alive … El Loco of the Zetas.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio