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Much-feared head of Zetas drug cartel killed in ambush

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 10th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, reputed boss of the much feared and dreaded Zetas drug cartel in Mexico has been confirmed killed in a standoff with Mexican Marines. While representing the biggest takedown since Mexico's "war on drugs," it's not known if his downfall will result in halting much of the ongoing violence.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Lazcano was killed in a shootout in a small town in northern Mexico on Sunday, 130 miles from the Texas border, the country's navy said.

A onetime Special Forces soldier, Lazcano became a founding member of the Zetas, a group accused of some of the most violent massacres in the ongoing drug war

A group of armed men later stole Lazcano's body from a funeral home. Authorities had already taken fingerprints and photographs to confirm his identity.

The news of his death has brought forth many pundits to discuss what impact this will have on the ever-broiling border violence.

George Grayson, professor of government at the College of William & Mary and the author of a book on the Zetas drug cartel says that Lazcano's death "certainly weakens dramatically the Zetas."

Other analysts are ambiguous on how Lazcano's death would affect the Zetas. "Even though the head falls, there is immediately a substitute," journalist Anabel Hernandez added.

Stratfor, an intelligence firm says it expects Lazcano's death to have little impact on the Zetas' operations. The firm has pointed out that Lazcano's health had been failing and he had already transferred much control of the organization to Miguel Angel Trevino Morales.

Both the U.S. and Mexico had offered rewards of more than $7 million for information leading to his capture.

President Calderon described Lazcano as "one of the most important and most dangerous" people on Mexico's list of most wanted criminals, saying that the Zetas cartel were responsible for "countless high-impact crimes and extreme violence that many communities in the country have suffered."

The Zetas are responsible for smuggling tons of cocaine and other drugs annually to the U.S., generating many millions of dollars.

The name conjures up images both violent and dreadful in recent Mexican history: a casino fire that killed 52 people, the deaths of 72 migrants, and tortured bodies hanging from bridges.

The marines who killed Lazcano had responded Sunday to reports of an armed group in the town of Progreso, in the northern state of Coahuila.

The Zetas, based in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, directly across the border from Laredo, Texas make up Mexico's largest drug cartel in terms of territory. The group has operations in 11 Mexican states.

Another reputed Zetas leader, Ivan Velazquez Caballero, alias "El Taliban," was captured last month.

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