The leader of the Los Zetas cartel, whose head was priced at $ 5 million by the United States, was arrested in Mexico City, the Mexican authorities announced Friday.
José Maria Guizar Valencia, aka “Z43”, was arrested “without using force” during an operation conducted by the Mexican Navy in the trendy Roma neighborhood, in the heart of the capital, said Renato Sales, the National Commissioner for Security.
The Zetas cartel, founded in 1990 by former elite military deserters, became known for its violent methods, including beheadings. His leader was wanted for drug trafficking, arms trafficking, organized crime, homicide and kidnapping.
“Z43”, who has dual US-Mexican nationality, was born in 1979 according to several Mexican media. The United States has been asking for his extradition since 2015.
He is suspected of being responsible for routing his drug cartel from South America to the United States and being one of the main culprits for the violence in the southeastern states of the country, said Mr. Sales.
Guizar Valencia operated in the state of Michoacan (west) then in 2001 in the state of Tamaulipas (north), before establishing in 2003 his base in Palenque in Chiapas (south-east), “where he recruited criminal cells,” said Sales.
He has since expanded hus traffic in Veracruz (east), along the Gulf of Mexico and the state of Puebla (center).
The authorities consider that “he has been responsible since 2007 for the transport of drugs from Colombia, passing through Guatemala by land and into Mexico”.
His predecessor at the head of the Zetas cartel, Omar Treviño aka “Z-42”, was arrested in 2015 in Monterrey (north).
Among the multiple massacres attributed to Los Zetas, the criminal group had executed in August 2010 72 migrants from Central America who refused to work for it or could not pay a ransom for their release.
Guizar Valencia is not the first organized crime leader to be arrested in the Mexican capital, which until recently was considered a safe island in the midst of the violence in the country.
In May of last year, Dámaso López, aka “El Licenciado”, linked to the powerful cartel of Sinaloa, was arrested in the capital.
Mexico is experiencing a wave of drug-related violence that has claimed more than 200,000 lives since December 2006, when the federal government launched a controversial military drug operation that critics say has only contributed to the proliferation of killings and attacks.
According to official figures, 25,339 murders were recorded in Mexico in 2017, the highest since the introduction of statistics in 1997.