Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, the notoriously brutal leader of the feared Zetas drug cartel, has been captured in the first major blow against an organized- crime leader by a Mexican administration struggling to drive down persistently high levels of violence, a U.S. federal official said Monday.
Several Mexican media outlets reported that Trevino Morales was captured by Mexican Marines near the border city of Nuevo Laredo, which long has served as the Zetas’ base of operations. The U.S. federal official was not authorized to speak to the press and asked not to be identified.
Trevino Morales, known as “Z-40,” is uniformly described as one of the two most-powerful cartel heads in Mexico, the leader of a corps of special-forces defectors who splintered off into their own cartel in 2010 and metastasized across Mexico, expanding from drug dealing into extortion, kidnapping and human trafficking.
Along the way, the Zetas authored some of the worst atrocities of Mexico’s drug war, leaving hundreds of bodies beheaded on roadsides or hanging from bridges, earning a reputation as perhaps the most terrifying of the country’s numerous ruthless cartels.