Photo: Miguel Angel Trevino Morales- Z-40
With the death of Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, “the Lazca”, leader of the criminal organization Los Zetas, the rise of Miguel Treviño Morales “Z-40” to the leadership of the group was imminent. The Cartels tentacles are expanded over much of the territory Mexican, South American and Central American countries.
The death of “The Lazca” by elements of the Navy in Progreso, Coahuila, paved the way for the reunification of the criminal organization under the command of one of its bloodiest leaders, who over 13 years has climbed the rankings in the underworld, leaving behind dozens of executions and authorship of various crimes and treason, for which he has earned the nickname “El Judas”.
Born November 18, 1970 in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Treviño Morales grew up in a large family in Dallas, Texas, where he began his criminal career at an early age and joined a gang in Texas, dedicated to theft and drug dealing in areas of high concentration of Hispanics in U.S. territory.
He joined the ranks of the Gulf Cartel (CDG) in the year 1999, at age 27. Thanks to his knowledge of English and contacts on both sides of the border, he quickly became a confidant of Osiel Cardenas Guillen, who already had full control of the activities of the criminal group in Tamaulipas.
The “Z-40” was assigned to the activities of the newly created group of Los Zetas (hence his nickname), the armed wing of the CDG. Under the command of military ex Arturo Guzmán Decena “Z-1”, Los Zetas took the “dirty work” of the drug cartel and counterintelligence efforts to prevent competing groups operating in its operational areas, as well as to direct the movement of drugs and merchandise right of way on both sides of the border routes through Tamaulipas, Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa and Matamoros and the main squares.
In that year he was introduced to Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano (“Lazca”, “Z-3”, “The Executioner”), he quickly became his deputy and was so until 2002. In 2002 there was a clash between Guzmán Decena and the Zetas, leaving the armed faction under the orders of Lazcano. Lazcano establish a relationship of trust that would be key to bringing the Los Zetas Cartel to the next level.
In 2005 he was appointed to a top position for the Gulf Cartel in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, with the task of preserving the area against the attacks of the Sinaloa Cartel assassins who sought to seize a border crossing in Tamaulipas.
It was then that Treviño Morales began to create his bloodthirsty reputation by orchestrating dozens of killings of members of rival groups, and to recruit gang members in Texas for murdering traffickers and drug dealers from the rival cartels.
In 2006, “Z-40” was accused by U.S. authorities and an arrest warrant was issued against him for a double homicide in Texas, in addition to being charged with conspiracy to traffic cocaine and distribution in North America.
Following the arrest (2003) and subsequent extradition to the United States of Osiel Cardenas Guillen (2007), Heriberto Lazcano and Miguel Treviño Morales decide to break their alliance with the CDG, establishing themselves as the independent Los Zetas Cartel.
Later the pair would seal a pact with the Beltran Leyva brothers, operators of the Sinaloa Cartel in Nuevo Leon and Coahuila, in 2008 to increase the area of Los Zetas, and keep their base of operations in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, considered the “crown jewel” for having the border area of land increased trade with the United States.
The might of Los Zetas was such that Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, the Juarez Cartel leader sought and made an agreement, extending the group’s operational area to Chihuahua, and from there to the states of Baja California, Sonora, Sinaloa and Michoacan. The Sinaloa Cartel bastions of “Chapo” Guzman, then consolidated a pact with the Gulf Cartel to create the New Federation, an armed group that would resist the Zetas and their allies.
Los Zetas seized not only the vast majority of drug transfer routes that had been run by the Gulf Cartel, which included contacts in South America, USA and Canada, but also expanded their operations to other common crimes and federal charters, including kidnapping, extortion, prostitution, alien smuggling, among others.
Power networks extended between Los Zetas spheres and those of government and the police forces. To the extent that active police elements involved in criminal acts in support of the criminal cell, “Stakes”, who maintained the control of operations in most of the municipalities where Los Zetas operated.
Treviño Morales struck terror to take control by acts of intense cruelty to his opponents, who were set fire inside barrels with oil, dismembering them while they were alive, etc. This earned him the fear and respect of dozens of fans within the Cartel, who multiplied his popularity and intimidated the authorities.
Considered as a “cult figure” to have escaped repeatedly being killed or captured in shootings, Treviño Morales remained in the shadow of the leader, “The Lazca”.
Coupled with their bloody acts that occupied the different squares in control of Los Zetas, primarily in Nuevo Leon, Coahuila and Tamaulipas. Among them is the tragedy of Casino Royale betting center of Monterrey on August 25, 2011, when a cell allegedly under the orders of “Z-40” entered the establishment causing a fire that left 52 people dead. It is the largest attack against civilians in the recent history Mexico.
He also is credited with masterminding the slaughter of 44 prisoners and the flight of 37 Social Rehabilitation Center of Apodaca, events of last February.
Then in June of this year U.S. authorities arrested Jose Trevino Morales, brother of “Z-40” who is credited with the creation of a sophisticated network for money laundering for the cartel. In the same month in the city of Monterrey Juan Francisco Treviño Chavez “El Quico” nephew of “Z-40” was also arrested.
The split between control unleashed a new escalation of violence in Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey, Torreon, Saltillo and Piedras Negras, which had its peak on Oct. 3, when five members of Los Zetas were killed after a clash with elements of Group Special Weapons and Tactics Coahuila police. Alejandro Treviño Chavez, nephew of the leader of Los Zetas was killed in the altercation.
In revenge, Treviño Morales hours later had ordered the execution of Jose Eduardo Moreira, son of former Coahuila Governor Humberto Moreira, and nephew of the current state governor Ruben Moreira.
The rise of Miguel Treviño Morales resulted in an upsurge in violence with Los Zetas.
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