Zetas Gang Leader Held by Mexico in Second Capture in a Week

Mexico captured its second alleged drug-cartel leader in less than a week, detaining the head of the Zetas gang Wednesday.

Federal forces apprehended Omar Trevino at about 3 a.m. local time in San Pedro Garza Garcia, Mexico, a suburb of Monterrey in northeast Mexico, National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido said Wednesday. Trevino was one of the most wanted criminals in Mexico, Rubido said. The government arrested Servando Gomez, the alleged head of a separate criminal group known as the Knights Templar, on Feb. 27.

Founded by former elite soldiers, the Zetas have helped fuel drug violence that has left 70,000 dead since 2006, according to data compiled by newspaper Milenio. They’ve also been tied to the mass killing of 265 migrants in northern Mexico and a 2011 arson at a Monterrey casino that left 52 dead. While the gang has been weakened by the arrest and killing of some of its leaders, areas it once dominated near the Texas border remain among the country’s most dangerous.

“It’s an important detention and it confirms that the Zetas have been beaten up,” Jorge Chabat, a security analyst at the Center for Research and Teaching in Mexico City, said by telephone. “The problem is that when you have a weak institutional fabric, you have a friendly environment for criminals. If you take down one leader, another will take his place.”

Trevino’s brother Miguel Angel, another Zetas leader, was detained in 2013 near the northern border city of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, by Mexican forces who intercepted his pickup truck with a helicopter. Another cartel head, Heriberto Lazcano, was killed in a gun battle with police in 2012.

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