HomeNewsBriefMexico Trumpets Arrest of 'Most-Wanted' Zetas Leader
BRIEF

Mexico Trumpets Arrest of 'Most-Wanted' Zetas Leader

MEXICO / 9 FEB 2018 BY ANGELIKA ALBALADEJO EN

Armed forces in Mexico arrested an alleged leader of the Zetas who was on the country's most-wanted list, but the longstanding policy of targeting top crime bosses could be contributing to the country's rising violence.

On February 8, Mexican marines arrested José María Guizar Valencia, alias “Z43,” the alleged leader of a Zetas faction operating along Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala.

In a statement to the press, National Security Commissioner Renato Sales Heredia said that Z43 was among the Mexican government's 122 most sought-after criminal suspects, and described him as "one of the principal generators of violence in the southwest of Mexico."

Z43 is a California-born US citizen belonging to the Guizar family thought to have a presence in the southern Mexican states of Tabasco and Veracruz, as well as in the United States. Officials accuse him of involvement in trafficking drugs from South America.

Z43 is likely related to Mauricio Guizar Cardenas, alias “El Amarillo,” the first Zetas commander in charge of Guatemala. El Amarillo was arrested in 2012 and accused of ordering a 2011 massacre in the Guatemalan department of Petén, a key drug trafficking region on Mexico's southern border.

Since 2014, the US State Department has offered a $5 million reward for information leading to Z43’s arrest. According to the US government, Z43 “assumed complete command and control of his own faction of Los Zetas in the Southern region of Mexico” following the successive deaths and arrests of his predecessors.

The US government has accused Z43 of ordering the murders of Guatemalan civilians during his Zetas faction’s takeover of the Mexico-Guatemala border region in recent years, as well as trafficking cocaine and methamphetamine into the United States. Three US courts have indicted Z43 on drug trafficking charges.

InSight Crime Analysis

The Zetas have largely lost their one-time reputation as one of Mexico’s most powerful and feared cartels, in part due to the demise of a number of top leaders like Z43 in recent years. But Mexico’s crime-fighting approach of capturing high-profile cartel leaders like Z43 has proven to have little long-term success in disrupting criminal activities, and may be contributing to rising violence.

SEE ALSO: Zeta News and Profiles

Throughout the 2000s, the Zetas’ roots in the special forces of Mexico’s army and their emphasis on bloodshed helped the group to rapidly and relentlessly expand. But with the Zetas’ founders and subsequent leaders dead or in prison, the criminal organization is becoming increasingly fractured and weak.

Yet Mexico’s kingpin strategy of picking off leader after leader is not a sustainable or effective policy for bringing down criminal groups or reducing violence. As InSight Crime recently reported, “the problem with this approach is that ‘success’ begets more violence, as a fallen capo’s erstwhile lieutenants and rivals scramble to fill the vacuum left by his departure.”

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

EXTRADITION / 3 APR 2015

Guatemala's authorities have extradited a founding member of the Mexican criminal organization the Zetas back to his homeland, the man…

HOMICIDES / 18 NOV 2012

An investigative report by Milenio suggests that of the 60,000 people killed in the last six years in Mexico's…

BRAZIL / 3 AUG 2017

In our August 3 Facebook Live session, Senior Editor Mike LaSusa spoke with Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Vanda Felbab-Brown about…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…