Mexico: A Zetas founder among 6 dead in shootout

Army detentions MichoacanUSA Today, 5/11/14

One of the military deserters who helped found the gang that grew into the brutal Zetas cartel was among six people killed during a gunbattle in a border town, a Tamaulipas state security official said Sunday.

The official said authorities confirmed that Galindo Mellado Cruz was one of five gunmen who died Friday in a shootout that also killed a Mexican soldier in Reynosa, which is across from McAllen, Texas. The official was not permitted to be quoted by name for security reasons.

The official said that Mellado Cruz was one of the 30 ex-special forces soldiers who created the Zetas gang to serve as enforcers for the Gulf Cartel before splitting off in a bloody breakup with its former ally. The official said Mellado Cruz no longer held a Zetas command position.

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3 Mexicans, 6 Guatemalans guilty in drug massacre

pistolThe Associated Press, 2/21/14

A Guatemalan court on Friday convicted three Mexican men and six Guatemalans of murder and kidnapping for the 2011 massacre of 27 farm workers. It sentenced them to 106 years in prison each. Judge Jeannette Valdez Rodas said in announcing the verdict that the evidence showed “a scene of terror” at the killing site at a ranch in the northern Peten region. The killers showed “maximum cruelty, with minds that display the maximum degree of dehumanization,” said Valdez Rodas, noting that one of the victims had been essentially gutted and had the letter “Z” carved into his stomach.

One of the Mexican men sentenced Friday, Jorge Hernandez Mendez, denied he had committed the crimes. “The truth is, I don’t regret it, because I didn’t do it.” The killers are believed to have been working for Mexico’s Zetas drug cartel. They decapitated most of the victims. The bodies were so badly mutilated that authorities originally put the death toll at 29 because there were so many body parts lying around.

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Hundreds of bodies burned beyond recognition are found scattered along U.S-Mexico border

John Moore - Getty ImagesDaily 2/11/14

Hundreds of skeletal remains have been found scattered around ranches along the U.S.-Mexico border, during a police search for missing people.  The remains had been left in the open and burned, making identification difficult for the Mexican authorities.  The discovery, announced by Coahuila state prosecutor spokesman Jesus Carranza on Monday, came as 12 bodies were unearthed in southern Mexico, and two months after 67 bodies were found in the west.

Such discoveries remain common despite government claims that the number of killings has gone down in the past year. Police in Coahuila haven’t said whether an organized crime group is suspected in the discovery of skeletal remains, but the area is known to be dominated by the violent Zetas drug cartel.  Officers have arrested 10 men, including four police officers suspected of aiding a criminal group, the state attorney general’s office said in a press release.

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Infrastructure, Drug Lords and Reform Proposals in Mexico – Weekly News Summary: July 19

Coffee by Flikr user samrevelThe Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.

What the English-language press had to say…

This week’s most important headline was the capture of Miguel Angel Treviño MoralesZ40 head of Zetas Cartel and one of Mexico’s most brutal drug lords. The capture of Mr. Treviño is the first arrest of a top cartel leader since Mr. Peña Nieto took office. During the capture, a navy helicopter intercepted the truck which Mr. Treviño was riding. The capture may have remarkably weaken Zetas, a cartel Mr Treviño Morales is believed to have controlled for about eight years, however, other Mexican cartels such as the Sinaloa and Caballeros Templarios remain powerful.


Continue reading “Infrastructure, Drug Lords and Reform Proposals in Mexico – Weekly News Summary: July 19”

In Mexico, cartels recruit vulnerable migrants

prisonFox News, 7/17/2013

Honduran migrant Samuel Alberto Centeno Vazquez was approached to work for the Zetas drug cartel as he made his way along the railways that lead to Mexico’s border with the United States. The members of the criminal gang carried pistols and made promises of a $1,000 monthly salary, girls and drugs.

He was offered the money to help the Zetas in their criminal activities, which include murder, drug trafficking, kidnapping and extortion. Mexico’s drug cartels are increasingly recruiting undocumented Central American migrants to join their ranks, non-governmental groups say. Although the number of Mexicans making the journey north to the United States is at a low, Central Americans are streaming across Mexico from troubled countries like Honduras in search of a better life.
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Mexico Creates Job Opening for a New Drug Kingpin

mystery manBloomberg, 7/17/2013

The government of Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto has good reason to trumpet the capture yesterday of Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, head of Los Zetas, one of the country’s most brutal and most powerful drug cartels.

Even by the gory standards of Mexican drug lords, Trevino stood out for his sadistic streak: He is accused of orchestrating, in several large-scale incidents, the kidnapping and killing of 265 migrants in northern Mexico. (According to one survivor, they were killed when they refused to work as drug mules.) The U.S. and Mexican governments had offered a combined bountyof as much as $7 million for his capture. Let’s hope that they have more money in the reward pinata, because they’re going to need it.

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Mexico Captures Head of Zetas Cartel

federal police mexicoThe Wall Street Journal, 7/16/2013

The Mexican government Monday said its navy captured the alleged leader of the country’s most violent drug-trafficking organization, an important victory for the new administration of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Miguel Angel Treviño, the head of the Zetas crime organization, was captured in northern Mexico, Deputy Interior Minister Eduardo Sanchez said in a televised news conference. Mr. Treviño had taken over the control of the feared crime group after leader Heriberto Lazcano was killed in a shootout with Mexican marines in October 2012.

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Vigilantes tackle Mexico’s drug gangs

BBC, m16 gun closeup1/21/2013

Authorities in Mexico have arrested 14 people accused of belonging to the Zetas drug cartel in the northern city of Monterrey.  The gang has become the largest in the country, making its money by trafficking drugs and carrying out kidnappings and assassinations.

But some Mexicans in rural areas have become frustrated by what they see as a lack of response by the authorities to the drugs violence and have formed their own vigilante groups.

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The Zetas and the Battle for Monterrey

InSight Crime, 12/19/2012

Guns by Flickr user barjackThe Zetas’ top leader is dead and the group is seemingly splitting into pieces, but they remain Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s biggest security challenge. In this context, InSight Crime delves into the battle for Mexico’s industrial capital, Monterrey, getting to the essence of a criminal gang that defies easy definition.

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Scholar Update- Steven Dudley

The Mexico institute is proud to be hosting Steven Dudley as a scholar in residence at the Wilson Center. Dudley arrived at the Wilson Center in September, 2012, and has been working on a book that analyzes the evolution of criminal organizations in Mexico. His research focuses on the 2010 massacre of 72 migrants by members of the Los Zetas drug trafficking organization on a ranch in San Fernando, Tamaulipas, an event that was widely reported but has received limited analysis. Dudley is working to chronicle the events, understand the forces that led to such horrific and seemingly senseless massacre, and consider what lessons can be drawn about the evolution of Los Zetas and the organized-crime landscape in Mexico. His is also working with Eric Olson, Associate Director of the Mexico Institute, on a project looking at civic engagement and public security and has been a panel member for a related Wilson Center-sponsored congressional briefing.


As a longtime reporter and founder of InSight Crime, Steven Dudley brings a wealth of experience to these efforts to understand the evolution of organized crime groups and the promotion of public security. Dudley is a longtime reporter, investigator and consultant who specializes in breaking down security issues on-the-ground in conflict situations; studying trends and tendencies of organized crime; analyzing political crises; investigating international and local justice systems; and reporting on corporate social responsibility, environmental subjects, and human rights issues. He is an expert on Latin America, where he lived for over 15 years, and is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. Dudley is the Co-director of InSight Crime, a joint initiative of American University in Washington DC, and the Foundation InSight Crime in Medellín, Colombia, which monitors, analyzes and investigates organized crime in the Americas. Based in Washington D.C., Dudley works with a team of eleven investigators and various contributors throughout the region to give the public a more complete view of how organized crime works in the Americas, as well as its impact on public policy and communities throughout Latin America. Prior to running InSight Crime, he worked as a journalist for the Miami Herald, National Public Radio, the Washington Post and other media organizations. He has won various awards for his writing and in 2007 was named a Knight Fellow at Stanford University.