Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, a Los Zetas drug lord known as “Z-40” among various other alias monikers was arrested after being spotted by a Mexican Marine helicopter in Mexico. Morales was spotted in a pickup truck on a country dirt road on Monday July 15, 2013. He was in possession of two shot guns and $2 million in cash as he was taken down. The kingpin was a major trafficker and was much sought after by the government. He was wanted in the U.S. and Mexico for a number of crimes related to his drug empire, which he took control over in 2012.
Morales, Kingpin of the Los Zetas, took over command of the cartel after the death of its longtime leader Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano. Lazcano who was a former Mexican Special Units Officer trained to fight drug trafficking. Lazcano had intimate knowledge of the Mexican government operations and was seen as a useful tool for cartel operations. With the lucrative money the cartels generate, bribery of officials is common practice in Mexico. Lazcano was recruited by the cartel and rose to commander. He was killed in a shootout with the Mexican Navy last year.
In Mexico, drug cartels are run much like American corporations. The Los Zetas stand out due to their brutality and willingness to diversify business interests. Morales is especially brutal and is believed to have perfected the “guiso” technique or stew technique. Morales’s enemies would be placed in a 55-gallon drum and burned alive.
“The Zetas were involved in 20 different criminal activities,” George Grayson, an expert on the Zetas and professor of government at the College of William & Mary, said. “Extortion, smuggling, torture, possible harvesting of human body parts,” he said. “You name it, the Zetas did it.”
Morales was arrested by Mexican authorities and was the major drug lord over Los Zetas smuggling operations. Its reach was from the South American countries extending into U.S. territories across the border. Originally a body guard organization for another drug cartel in Mexico, they rose to become a formidable cartel of their own.
“The traditional cartels buy off politicians, establish traffic routes for smuggling and make money. Then come the Zetas, with no background in narcotics, and they start chopping peoples’ heads off,” Grayson said. “That’s bad for the bottom line.”
“Sadism was their brand. Even the Sinaloas (cartel) are now decapitating people,” Grayson said. “You have to keep up with the Joneses. You have to have cartel cred – being known as the meanest, most savage criminal organization in the Americas.”
The Arrest of the Los Zetas Mexican drug lord could seek to stem the violence associated with its operations. The Los Zetas control areas just east of Mexico City, the grandson of Malcom X, Malcom Shabazz was killed one block from Plaza Garibaldi in Mexico City. The 29-year old American appeared to have been beaten to death. The U.S. State Department was aware that a U.S. citizen was killed in Mexico but has declined to comment further on the particulars of the death.
By Thomas Barr