Security forces in Mexico have arrested a top leader of the infamous Zetas drug cartel in connection with the recent discovery of 49 mutilated bodies along a highway leading to the U.S. border, authorities said late on Sunday.
An Army spokesman identified the arestred as Daniel Jesus Elizondo, known as 'El Loco' or The Madman. The spokesman added that Elizondo was the local leader of the Zetas cartel that left threatening massages alongside the corpses.
Meanwhile, Mexico's Defense Secretary said Elizondo was detained on May 18 in northern Nuevo Leon state's Cadereyta municipality, where the 49 mutilated bodies were found six days ago. It is not clear why his arrest was made public only on Sunday.
The dismembered bodies were found dumped in Cadereyta municipality on the highway from Monterrey to Reynosa on the U.S. border late on May 13. According to officials, the victims appeared to have been killed elsewhere at least two days ago and dumped from a truck.
Police officials said then that the body parts were that of 43 men and six women. They said the bodies were mutilated beyond recognition and added that a note found alongside the corpses indicated that the massacre was carried out by the Zetas cartel.
The dreaded Zetas drug cartel was formed by former Mexican special forces soldiers. The Zetas initially served as hit-men and armed enforcers for the powerful Gulf cartel. They later split from their employers and extended their activities to include drug trafficking, kidnapping and extortion. The group has been engaged in fierce turf-wars with the Gulf and Sinaloa cartels for control of the lucrative drug smuggling routes into the U.S.
The Cadereyta massacre came just days after the decapitated and dismembered bodies of at least 15 people were found stuffed inside two vans in the country's western Pacific coast state of Jalisco.
Prior to that, some 23 bodies were found in the border city of Nuevo Laredo in Nuevo Leon state earlier this month. Also, police had found the remains of 26 bodies stuffed into three vehicles in Jalisco state capital Guadalajara, Mexico's second-largest city, in November.
The states of Jalisco and Nuevo Laredo were earlier controlled by the infamous Sinaloa cartel led by Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, who is Mexico's most wanted drug lord. He has been on the run since he escaped from a Mexican prison ten years ago. The two states began witnessing regular drug-related violence in recent years after the Zetas began challenging the Sinaloa cartel and other drug gangs based in western and northern Mexico.
The Mexican government says that more than 45,000 people have died in drug-related violence in the country since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against drug gangs after taking office in December 2006.
Besides fighting drug cartels, Calderon has deployed thousands of troops across the country to check drug-related violence and launched a massive anti-corruption drive named 'Operation Clean-up' to identify and punish public servants having links with drug cartels.
by RTT Staff Writer
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