The famously bloodthirsty boss of Mexico’s most notoriously violent drug cartel has been captured by Mexican marines without a shot being fired, authorities have said.
Miguel Angel Treviño Morales, the leader of the Zetas cartel, was arrested 17 miles outside the border city of Nuevo Laredo in the north-east corner of Mexico, long a stronghold of the organisation.
A navy helicopter pursued the pickup truck in which Treviño was traveling along unpaved back roads towards the city at 3.45am on Monday and forced it to stop, government security spokesman Eduardo Sánchez told reporters. He said ground reinforcements then arrested the drug baron along with two other occupants of the vehicle who were initially thought to be his accountant and a bodyguard.
“No shots were fired,” Sanchez said, adding that marines found eight assault weapons and 500 rounds of ammunition inside the pickup, as well as two million dollars.
“He is wanted on charges of drug trafficking, murder, torture, unauthorised possession of firearms among other crimes,” the spokesman said, highlighting his alleged responsibility in the kidnapping and murder of 265 migrants in Zeta territory.
Sanchéz, who insisted the operation was the result of months of intelligence work, said all three detainees had been flown to Mexico City and were being held for initial questioning in the organised crime unit of the attorney general’s Office.
The arrest of the kingpin known as Z-40 is the first high profile takedown of a drug baron since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office in December with Mexico in the midst of a complex tapestry of cartel turf wars.
The violence is estimated to have killed well over 80,000 people since Peña Nieto’s predecessor, Felipe Calderón, launched a military led crackdown on organised crime in 2006 that triggered more violence. The bloodletting has continued into the new administration at about the same rate, with the government insisting that it needs more time to make good on its promises to slash the death toll.