Skip to main content

Zetas Leader Captured in Nuevo León

UPDATED: Authorities confirmed Miguel Treviño Morales was captured at 3:45 a.m. local time in the municipality of Anáhuac, Nuevo León, and not in Nuevo Laredo, as originally reported.

Leader of the Zetas drug cartel Miguel Treviño Morales, also known as "40."

Updated, 9 p.m. MST

Authorities confirmed Miguel Treviño Morales was captured at 3:45 a.m. local time in the municipality of Anáhuac, Nuevo León, and not in Nuevo Laredo, as originally reported. Anáhuac is located on the outskirts of Nuevo León and is home to a major international bridge, the Colombia Solidarity Bridge, which connects Mexico to South Texas just north of the Laredo city limits.

The alleged head of the Zetas cartel was captured following helicopter surveillance after data had been gathered on his whereabouts, said Eduardo Sánchez, the spokesman for Mexico’s Secretaría de Seguridad Pública, the country’s public safety division. He was captured without a single shot being fired, Sánchez added.

Mexican media outlet Milenio reported that Treviño faces multiple charges, including money laundering, murder, drug trafficking and torture, and is connected to the kidnapping and subsequent murder of hundreds of migrants in San Fernando, Tamaulipas. The outlet reported that Treviño became accustomed to traveling on back roads when en route from Tamaulipas to the Mexican state of Coahuila, which borders Texas at Eagle Pass and has also become the scene of several shootouts between law enforcement and criminal gangs.

Treviño’s Zetas battled rivals and former allies from the Gulf Cartel, as well as other factions of organized crime, for control over the lucrative I-35 corridor. The route begins in Texas at the southern end of the highway in Laredo and extends northward to hot spots for distribution like San Antonio, Austin and Dallas, where Treviño once lived.

Original story:

El PASO — The man who allegedly headed one of Mexico’s most brutal cartels has reportedly been captured by Mexican authorities in the city of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas.

Miguel Treviño Morales, known by his call sign of “40,” was captured by Mexican marines early Monday in the town just across the Rio Grande from Laredo, officials said Monday. The news, first reported by The Dallas Morning News, was confirmed to The Texas Tribune by a U.S. investigator familiar with Treviño and his connection to Texas. A spokesman with the Mexican armed forces said Monday afternoon that the Secretaría de Marina had no official comment.

Treviño was also being sought by U.S. authorities on various charges, including those related to his suspected connection to several murders in Laredo committed about seven years ago by U.S. citizen teenagers. Treviño befriended the young recruits on the Mexican side of the river and paid them in cash and drugs for their deeds, U.S. authorities said. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest or capture.

“That’s up in the air,” the U.S. investigator said when asked about extradition to the U.S. “I am pretty sure they are going to look to get him directly to Mexico City for now.”

Treviño assumed command of the Zetas, who were originally made up of elite Mexican soldiers who deserted the armed forces, after the death of former leader Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano in October. Though not an original member of the group, Treviño soon rose through the ranks and was rumored to be the de facto leader before Lazcano was killed by law enforcement officers.

The capture represents a milestone in the young presidency of Mexican leader Enrique Peña Nieto, who took office in December and vowed to stray from the tactics of his predecessor, President Felipe Calderón.

Wait! We need your help.


Explore related story topics

Courts Criminal justice Border