The Mexican authorities say the leader of the nation’s largest drug cartel was taken out in a gun battle with the Mexican Navy, with evidence pointing toward Heriberto Lazcano, nicknamed “The Executioner” being one of two men where killed in the shootout.
On Sunday, assailants from a moving vehicle used grenades to attack Mexican Navy vehicles on patrol. One Navy member was injured in the attack that killed the two cartel members, CNN reports.
The Los Zetas cartel is Mexico’s largest in terms of territory, and operates in 11 Mexican states to send thousands of kilos of cocaine and other drugs to the United States.
However, don’t count Lazcano out quite yet. The navy said it needs to carry out more tests to be really sure the dead man really is Lazcano. Not only that, the leader has been rumored killed or captured at several times in the past, so it wouldn’t be surprising for him to show up alive yet again.
Lazcano is a highly wanted criminal. The U.S. State Department has a $5 million reward on his head, and Mexico has another $2.3 million out for him. But even if he’s dead, analysts say it’ll be a blow to his cartel but it won’t mean the end of it.
The kingpin is considered particularly dangerous because when he was younger, he served as part of Mexico’s Airborne Special Forces Group that battles drug cartels. However, he and other Special Forces members were recruited by the Gulf cartel to create its own enforcement, called Los Zetas and eventually, the Zetas became its own drug trafficking group.
Like any other group of really bad guys, these folks have more trades than just one, and in addition to drug trafficking, they specialize in extortion, kidnappings and smuggling humans.
And turf wars have been becoming increasingly more bloody between the Zetas and other cartels. Just this past May, authorities found 49 decapitated, dismembered bodies along a highway in Nuevo Leon – and say the death orders came from Lazcano himself.