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

MEXICO / 26 JAN 2021

US federal prosecutors say a real-estate investment firm accepted millions in drug money, revealing how high-end real-estate ventures are being…

MEXICO / 29 JUN 2022

El Chueco has quite the rap sheet, having allegedly killed priests, a tour guide, baseball players and an American tourist.

MEXICO / 1 MAR 2021

An investigation into a criminal group, led by Romanians based in Mexico and specialized in ATM skimming and credit card…

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…