Mexico drug kingpin killed; thieves still his remains from funeral home
MEXICO CITY — The death of the founder and leader of Mexico's brutal Zetas cartel in a firefight with marines near the Texas border was perhaps the biggest coup of President Felipe Calderon's war on drugs.
But triumph turned to embarrassment when authorities lost the body.
Authorities still haven't found the remains of Heriberto Lazcano, which were snatched from a funeral home and whisked away by gunmen in a hijacked hearse hours after the Zetas strongman died in a hail of gunfire in the town of Progreso in Coahuila state.
The corpse theft left authorities on Tuesday assuring Mexicans that they got the right man based on fingerprints and photos taken while they still had the body. The navy released two of the photos, showing the puffy, slack face of a corpse whose features, particularly his flaring nostrils, appeared to match the few known photos of Lazcano.
The fallen capo was an army special forces deserter whose brutality and paramilitary tactics transformed a small group of drug cartel enforcers into one of the world's most feared international criminal organizations. Analysts say his death could set off a power struggle inside the Zetas as its relatively autonomous local cells decide whether to align with its remaining boss, Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, a man considered even more ruthless and brutal than Lazcano.
The killing is expected to intensify the Zetas' war with the country's other dominant criminal organization, the Sinaloa cartel controlled by Mexico's most-wanted man, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
At the center of the two cartels' struggle is Nuevo Laredo, a violence-torn city across from Laredo, Texas. More freight crosses there than anywhere else along the U.S.-Mexican border, making it one of the most valuable smuggling routes in the world.
“There will be a shootout at the OK Corral over Nuevo Laredo,” predicted George Grayson, an expert on the Zetas and co-author of “The Executioner's Men: Los Zetas, Rogue Soldiers, Criminal Entrepreneurs and the Shadow State They Created.” Calderon, who leaves office in two months with the six-year-long war on drug the signature of his presidency, stopped short of unreservedly declaring Lazcano dead, but said evidence clearly indicated the Zetas founder had been slain.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers kicker Boswell puts best foot forward
- Occupying playoff spot on Thanksgiving good harbinger for Penguins
- German financial giant Allianz SE slashes coal investments
- McIntyre students hope Buddy Bench is beneficial to all
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin not grooming successor to RB Williams
- Pittsburgh man charged with 56 counts after high-speed chase over weekend
- Elizabeth proposes big jump in small local services tax; councilwoman steps down
- Clairton City School District wins award for its anti-hunger efforts
- Black Friday loosens its hold on the holiday season
- Elizabeth mayor hails police department’s role in ‘major’ heroin bust in Clairton
- Greensburg Tribune-Review athletes of the week: Indiana’s Patrick O’Neal, Norwin’s Jess Boytim