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Mexican drug cartel leader 'El Taliban' arrested

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 27th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Mexican drug cartel boss, Ivan Velazquez of the dreaded Zetas gang has been arrested in the central state of San Luis Potosi. Known as "Z-50" or "El Taliban," Velazquez was arrested without a single shot being fired.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Velazquez Caballero allegedly has been fighting a bloody internal battle with top Zetas' leader Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, and officials have said the split was behind a recent surge in massacres and shootouts, particularly in northern Mexico.

Masked marines displayed the burly, handcuffed suspect alongside two alleged accomplices and a table of guns and other contraband seized during his arrest.

Formed by a group of army deserters in the late 1990s, the Zetas has acted as enforcers for the Gulf Cartel prior to splitting with their employers in 2010. The notoriously brutal gang is reportedly breaking apart due to an internal feud.

The Zetas boast 10,000-plus gunmen. The prospect of them fighting for control of local trafficking networks and smuggling routes has alarmed security experts. With recent internecine fractions within the group, however, members of the gang have begun to inform against their former colleagues.

Velazquez is listed by the government as one of the country's most-wanted drug kingpins. The Mexican government has offered a reward of up to $2.34 million for information leading to his arrest.

More than 20 drug lords have been caught or killed over the past three years. The most recent capture came two weeks ago, when the navy arrested Gulf Cartel head Jorge Costilla, alias "El Coss."

The Mexican Navy had announced the capture of 18 suspected Zetas in the northern state of Nuevo Leon. About 60,000 people - many of them unarmed civilians, have been killed in drug-related violence during Mexican President Felipe Calderon's six-year term.

In a separate incident, Mexican authorities say troops have clashed with an armed group near a church in southern Mexico, leaving 11 people dead, including a soldier and one woman.

State police found ten bodies in and around a chapel, in addition to the soldier who died in this week's shootout.

How to contain the threat posed by the drug gangs is one of the main challenges facing President Calderon's successor Enrique Pena Nieto, who is due to take office on December 1.


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