Stretching from southern Texas to as far as the jungles of Guatemala and clandestine airstrips in Honduras, the Zetas organization is now powerful enough to challenge Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel for hegemony.
George Grayson, co-author of a new book on the Zetas titled “The Executioner’s Men,” said Lazcano’s death could help Guzman take over more territory.
Grayson also said that unlike in the early years, few of the new Zetas are trained military men. “The Zetas are like a civil service,” he said. “They have a line of replacements for cadres killed and captured. The problem is that the new plaza bosses are younger, less experienced in the use of weapons and more likely to use drugs and seek to earn their stripes through savagery.”
The Mexican marines have been hitting the Zetas hard in recent weeks, capturing a string of regional bosses.
Acting on U.S. intelligence, marines snatched Ivan Velazquez Caballero, known as “El Taliban,” last month in San Luis Potosi.
Over the weekend, the marines arrested Salvador Alfonso Martinez Escobedo, a.k.a. the Squirrel, in Nuevo Laredo, across from Laredo. Mexican officials say the Squirrel was the organizer behind the massacre of 72 migrants in the northern state of Tamaulipas in 2010.
He is also implicated by Mexican authorities in the killing in 2010 of David Hartley, a U.S. citizen who was shot in the head while jet-skiing with his wife on Falcon Lake, which straddles the U.S.-Mexico border.
The death of Lazcano, while a coup for Calderon and the DEA, could end up having little impact, as an even more brutal leader, Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, known as “Z 40,” is in line to take over the gang.