Mexico's Attorney General's Office has refused to release DNA testing results that would confirm the identity of slain Zetas leader Heriberto Lazcano, alias "Z3," who was allegedly killed in a shootout with marines in 2012.
Mexican newspaper 24 Horas reported that in response to their request to obtain the results of the DNA testing on Z3's body, the Attorney General's Office (PGR) said that they could not release this information until 2024.
In a statement provided to 24 Horas, the PGR said that releasing this information could compromise an ongoing preliminary investigation by the agency's organized crime investigative unit, and that for this reason, the DNA results would remain embargoed for the twelve-year period following Z3's death.
An anonymous source from the PGR consulted by 24 Horas would only say that Z3's case "isn't yet closed."
Z3 was one of the founding members of Mexican criminal organization the Zetas. After he was reported killed in a firefight with marines in 2012, his body was stolen from the morgue in Coahuila state.
InSight Crime Analysis
These revelations from 24 Horas are likely to further feed the conspiracy theories surrounding the circumstances of Z3's death.
Before the body was stolen, state authorities in Coahuila said they were able to confirm Z3's identity via photographs and fingerprints, and were also able to obtain some "genetic material" that could later be used for DNA testing. The Attorney General's Office then proceeded to exhume the remains of Z3's parents, but has remained silent ever since. It is hard to think of a reason why Mexican authorities would want to withhold the results of DNA tests performed on the alleged body of Z3, but doing so will do little to assuage the rumors that the Zetas leader actually remains at large.
SEE ALSO: Z3 Profile
Z3 wouldn't be the first Mexican kingpin to be mistakenly reported killed in a gunfight. Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, alias "El Chayo" or "The Craziest One," was originally reported killed in 2010, only to reappear in 2014 -- actually dead this time.
And this is just one of various cases in which the circumstances of a drug trafficker's "death" have remained hazy. Sinaloa Cartel leader Juan Jose Esparragoza Moreno, alias "El Azul," was reported dead of a heart attack earlier this year -- something that his son confirmed -- but the DNA test results that would confirm his passing have not yet been released.