News / Americas

    Zetas Cartel Leader Killed, Body Snatched

    This photo released October 9, 2012 by Mexico's Navy allegedly shows the body of Zetas drug cartel leader and founder Heriberto Lazcano while in the possession of Mexico's Medical Forensic Service in Sabinas, Mexico.
    This photo released October 9, 2012 by Mexico's Navy allegedly shows the body of Zetas drug cartel leader and founder Heriberto Lazcano while in the possession of Mexico's Medical Forensic Service in Sabinas, Mexico.
    The Mexican government is claiming a major victory in its war against illegal drug smugglers and violent criminal gangs after Mexican Marines killed the leader of the gang known as "Los Zetas" on Sunday.  A state prosecutor, however, said gunmen stole Lazcano's body from a funeral home. This follows the arrest of a gang member suspected of mass murders and last month's arrest of several other alleged major drug traffickers.  But, the violent drug war in Mexico is far from over.

    Mexican authorities have posted photographs on the Internet of the body of the man they say was the leader of the country's most brutal drug gang - Los Zetas.  Mexican Marines, who carried out the operation that led to his shooting death, say fingerprints and other forensic tests prove the man they killed was 37-year-old Heriberto Lazcano, a former soldier who headed the gang that is known for its military-style tactics and its horrific violence.

    Heriberto Lazcano

    • Born December 25, 1974
    • Leader of Los Zetas Cartel
    • Security chief for the Gulf Cartel
    • Oversaw management and deployment of Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas enforcement operatives
    • Charged in 2008 U.S. federal indictment with violating the controlled substances act

    Source: State Department
    The killing of the top Zeta is a major victory for President Felipe Calderon as he prepares to leave office in December.  Analysts say the war he started against criminal gangs after entering office six years ago is the most significant action of his presidency.  More than 60,000 people have died in the violence connected to that war, which involves Mexican soldiers and police fighting drug gangs that are also engaged in fighting with one another.

    One of the top U.S. experts on Mexico, George Grayson of The College of William & Mary in Virginia, has written extensively about the drug war.  Grayson published a book on the Zetas earlier this year titled "The Executioner's Men:  Los Zetas, Rogue Soldiers, Criminal Entrepreneurs, and the Shadow State They Created."

    He says Lazcano's death might give rise to more violence as new leaders take over and younger gunmen vie for positions in the highly structured organization.

    “The problem is that the newer leaders are younger, they are less experienced, they are more likely to use drugs and they want to earn their stripes [prove themselves] by being extremely vicious," said Grayson.

    Grayson says that in addition to the government, the other big winner is Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman - the fugitive leader of Mexico's largest and most powerful drug trafficking group, the Sinaloa Cartel.  Guzman has been backing the Gulf Cartel in its fight against Los Zetas.  He recently succeeded in patching a rift within that organization that weakened its hand in fighting for control of the most important drug smuggling corridor near the Mexican city of Nuevo Laredo, just across the border from Laredo, Texas.

    “El Chapo comes out of this as one of the winners.  And I suspect that he would like to, with a united Gulf Cartel, make a grab for Nuevo Laredo," he said.

    Analyst George Grayson says he expects to see more violence in that area and in the nearby industrial city of Monterrey, which has had some improvement in public safety in recent months after suffering a wave of shootings, kidnappings and assaults.

    Grayson says the Lazcano killing demonstrates a shift in tactics that has paid dividends for the Mexican government.  He says President Calderon began his war on drug traffickers with massive deployments of army units, but more recently has relied on the Navy and Marines to carry out precision strikes on drug gang leaders.

    "He is no longer sending hundreds, maybe thousands of army troops into areas where there was often collateral damage or human rights abuses.  He is relying less on the broad sword and more on the scalpel, and that scalpel is being wielded successfully by the Navy and the Marines," he said.

    Incoming Mexican president, Enrique Pena Nieto, says he favors such tactics.

    George Grayson says Mr. Pena Nieto realizes that the average Mexicans are more concerned about public safety than crippling the illicit drug trade.

    "The public is less concerned about the number of trophies of kingpins that are on the mantelpiece in the presidential palace than they are about having security in their homes and in their schools and in their workplaces.  And that is going to be the major challenge that Pena Nieto has - not simply taking down the drug lords, but reducing the violence," said Grayson.

    In addition to killing Zeta leader Heriberto Lazcano, government forces this week captured Salvador Alfonso Martinez Escobedo, who is known as "The Squirrel."  He is suspected of some 300 murders, including the 2010 mass killing of 72 migrants in the northern Mexico state of Tamaulipas, and the murder that same year of a U.S. citizen who crossed into Mexico on a jet ski on Falcon Lake on the border near Laredo, Texas.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

    More Americas News

    Venezuelan Supreme Court Approves Emergency Powers for President

    President Maduro had asked the court for emergency powers to counteract the country's deep economic crisis

    Pope Heads to Cuba for Historic 'Personal Conversation'

    The persecution of Christians — Catholic and Orthodox — in the Middle East and Africa has helped bring the two churches closer

    Expert: Focus on Zika's Consequences, Not Disease Itself

    Dr. Ronald Waldman of George Washington University notes that the possible link to microcephaly, not the relatively mild disease itself, is of greatest concern

    Dozens Killed in Mexico Prison Riot

    Inmates set fire to a storage area during overnight fighting between rival factions at Topo Chico prison

    Brazil Partners With US Scientists to Find Zika Vaccine

    Brazilia to invest $1.9 million in partnership between University of Texas and Evandro Chagas Institute; aim is to develop serum within year

    Brazil Links 3 Deaths to Suspected Zika-Related Complications

    Little understood virus was previously believed to cause only minor symptoms, including fever, rash and muscle aches, and often no symptoms at all