Authorities in Mexico have captured an alleged Zetas hitman accused of killing more than 75 people. Many of these victims were bus passengers, but it is unclear whether they were targeted killings or random acts of terror.
The AP reports that Enrique Elizondo Flores, alias "El Arabe," was ordered to identify and kill members of rival organizations like the Gulf Cartel. Many of these victims were reportedly pulled off buses traveling through Nuevo Leon state.
According to a press release from the Nuevo Leon government, the suspect also allegedly killed six policemen, a married couple, and their child. The report adds that Flores was based in the municipality of Salinas Victoria for three years, some 60 miles from the US border.
InSight Crime Analysis
As InSight Crime has reported, the Zetas began kidnapping, torturing, and executing groups of bus passengers last year due to fears that the Gulf Cartel was bringing in reinforcements from other states. These murders may be intended, as Flores said, to choke off reinforcements to their former mother group. But questions remain over why the Zetas would choose to rely on such a tactic. The group reportedly killed at least 92 bus passengers in three massacres last year, according to the AP.
If the 36 bus passengers reportedly killed by Flores actually worked for the Gulf Cartel, the Zetas must have had exceptional intelligence in order to personally identify so many low-level operatives.
It is also possible that Flores was simply instructed to kill everyone who fit a certain profile, who would likely be among the Gulf Cartel reinforcements. The other scenario is that Flores may have been carrying out in indiscriminate killings intended to intimidate the population and thus cement the Zetas' credibility as Mexico's most dangerous criminal gang.