(MEXICO CITY) — The Mexican government may have dealt a crippling blow to one of the country’s biggest drug gangs on Tuesday when it captured Zetas leader Miguel Angel Trevino.
Trevino is believed to have taken control of the Zetas operations following last year’s killing of its longtime leader, Heriberto Lazcano.
Known as Z-40, this feared gangster ran smuggling corridors that stretched from Guatemala to the Texas border. He became famous for torturing his opponents and inciting massive executions in towns like Nuevo Laredo and Veracruz, and is even wanted in the U.S. for ordering murders in southern Texas.
Trevino was not just a drug dealer. He also helped the Zetas expand from drug trafficking to other activities like kidnapping immigrants for ransom. He’s even wanted for the mass execution of 72 immigrants who were found in a mass grave in northern Mexico in 2010.
Now, Trevino’s arrest is sparking widespread speculation on the future of his organization.
The Zetas who, just two years ago were described by analysts as the drug cartel that had the greatest presence in Mexican territory, are starting to fracture. This goes back to internal issues that started in early 2012 when disputes arose between Trevino and Lazcano.
Security analysts say that the internal conflict intensified after Lazcano was killed by Mexican marines in October of 2012. At the time, Trevino’s followers and Lazcano’s followers accused each other of being sellouts.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Samantha Beech, CNN
Joe Sterling and Darran Simon, CNN