Mexico Nabs Cartel Leader: Officials

Alleged local Zetas boss said to have ties with cartel's top commander

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 9, 2012 9:00 AM CST

(Newser) – Mexico has arrested an alleged local leader of the violent Zetas drug cartel, which has taken control of much of Coahuila state, the country's navy says. Said Omar Juarez was captured in the state's capital, Saltillo, with weapons and what appeared to be cocaine and marijuana, the navy's statement says. Officials say Juarez likely has direct ties to overall Zetas head Miguel Angel Trevino, and hope his capture will bring them closer to Trevino.

The bust comes amid increased violence in Coahuila, the Los Angeles Times notes: Navy troops killed Trevino's predecessor, Heriberto Lazcano, in a shootout last month; commandos then stole his body. The ex-governor's son was also killed last month, reportedly by Zetas members working with police. September saw one of the biggest prison breaks ever recorded (in which inmates aided by the Zetas simply walked out the front door). Outgoing president Felipe Calderon has aimed to stem the violence by targeting cartel leaders. Now, "there are fewer leaders, but the operational capacity of the criminal groups does not seem to be weakened," says an analyst. "Organized crime is more powerful today than ever."

Confiscated money, grenades, and guns are displayed during a media presentation of another alleged leader in the Zetas cartel, Ivan Velazquez Caballero, in Mexico City,Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012.
Confiscated money, grenades, and guns are displayed during a media presentation of another alleged leader in the Zetas cartel, Ivan Velazquez Caballero, in Mexico City,Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012.   (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
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