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Blog del Narco: One of Mexico’s Most Wanted Caught - Known as “The Taliban”

Blog del Narco: One of Mexico’s Most Wanted Caught - Known as “The Taliban”

Photo: The Taliban- Los Zeta arrested

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

Mexican marines have detained a man who identified himself as Ivan Velazquez Caballero, one of the top leaders of the notorious Los Zetas drug cartel.

In a brief statement, the Navy Secretariat said Velazquez Caballero, alias “Z-50,” “L-50” or “El Taliban,” was arrested Wednesday in the central state of San Luis Potosi and added that it would provide more information on Thursday.

The Zetas, a group founded by deserters from a U.S.-trained Mexican special forces unit, started out as the armed wing of the Gulf cartel, but those two criminal organizations had a falling out in 2010 and have since fought a brutal turf war in northeastern Mexico.

Mexican weekly Proceso said in a recent report that a dissident faction of Los Zetas headed by Velazquez Caballero had realigned itself with the Gulf mob.

According to the report, based on a message published on social-networking sites, the dissident faction accuses Zetas leader Miguel Angel Treviño Morales, aka “Z-40,” of betraying several regional leaders of the cartel to the authorities.

The report said Velazquez Caballero’s faction had expressed its displeasure with Treviño Morales since late 2011 on signs placed in several northeastern cities and videos posted on YouTube.

The federal Attorney General’s Office offered a 30-million-peso ($2.3-million) reward for information leading to the capture of Velazquez Caballero, whose faction operates in the states of San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas and Nuevo Leon.

Regarded as Mexico’s most ruthless cartel, the Zetas were behind the August 2011 daytime arson attack on a casino in the northern metropolis of Monterrey that left 52 employees and gamblers dead.

Zetas gunmen allegedly torched the gaming establishment after its owner refused to pay protection money.

The drug mob also is blamed for the murder of around 200 people whose bodies were found earlier that year in a series of clandestine graves in Tamaulipas.

The Zetas have drawn the ire of older, established cartels through their extensive involvement in extortion, kidnapping for ransom and robbery, crimes that the other drug mobs generally eschew out of a desire to avoid antagonizing the general public.

Mexico has been mired in a wave of organized crime-related violence that has left some 60,000 dead since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderon took office and militarized the struggle against the country’s heavily armed, well-funded drug mobs.

Read more in Spanish at Blog del narco