The leader of the bloodthirsty Zetas drug cartel has apparently been killed in a firefight with marines in the northern border state of Coahuila, the Mexican navy said yesterday. The navy said there was strong evidence the body of one of two men killed in the shootout was Heriberto Lazcano, known as "El Lazca." But it added that more forensics tests would have to be carried out to confirm the identification. Lazcano, also known as "the Executioner," is suspected in hundreds of killings and the United States has offered a $5 million reward and Mexico an additional $2.3 million for information leading to his arrest.
The death of Lazcano would be a major victory for Mexican law enforcement. The Zetas cartel that he helped found with other deserters from an elite army unit went on to carry out some of Mexico's bloodiest massacres, biggest jail breaks, and fiercest attacks on authorities. The Zetas, former enforcers for the Gulf cartel who split from their old bosses in 2010, earned their notoriety for brutality by becoming the first to publicly display their beheaded rivals, most infamously two police officers in April 2006 in the resort city of Acapulco. (Read more Zetas stories.)