Drug kingpin in Mexico's Zeta Cartel arrested

A Mexican marine stands in front of different kinds of firearms, cocaine and military uniforms seized to alleged members of the Zetas drug traffickers cartel. (AFP Photo / Yuri Cortez)
One of Mexico’s most wanted drug lords, Velazquez Caballero, was arrested on Thursday. Known as ‘Z-50’ and ‘El-Taliban,’ Caballero, a senior member of one of Mexico’s largest and most violent cartels, had a $2.3 million bounty on his head.

"A person who is presumed to be and who says he is Ivan Velazquez Caballero, aka ‘Z-50’ … one of the main leaders of the Zetas cartel, has been captured in San Luis Potosi state," the Mexican Navy said in a statement.

The Zetas are one of Mexico’s most powerful drug gangs, with operations across the country’s northern and eastern regions. The group is infamous for its violence and brutality, with the US government calling them "the most technologically advanced, sophisticated and dangerous cartel operating in Mexico” in 2009. In January 2012, they overtook their biggest rivals, the Sinaloa Federation, as the biggest cartel in Mexico.

Mexico has been ravaged by drug-related violence since Mexican President Felipe Calderon initiated a military crackdown on the cartels in 2006. Some 60,000 people were reportedly killed since the crackdown began.

The Zetas were former Mexican special operations soldiers hired as enforcers for the Gulf Cartel. When they turned their guns on their employers, they took over much of the Gulf Cartel’s territory and influence. The Zetas’ tactics include beheading and torture, and they are believed to operate several drug smuggling routes into the US.

The Mexican Navy announced it would release a more detailed report on the arrest later Thursday, AFP said.