International Law

Top Mexican drug cartel chief's capture may not quell violence, authorities say

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The head of one of the two most powerful drug cartels in Mexico has been captured in the countryside outside Nuevo Laredo, along with a bodyguard and an accountant, authorities say.

Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, 40, the claimed chief of Los Zetas, is charged with kidnapping, torture, murder and other crimes, reports the Associated Press.

He and the other two defendants are expected to be tried in Mexico City. They were captured before dawn Monday in a pickup truck on a dirt road that was carrying $2 million in cash.

It remains to be been seen whether the removal of Morales, who is accused of orchestrating hundreds of killings and overseeing a drug empire with 37 distribution points in the U.S. and growing involvement in other legal and illegal businesses and money-laundering, will make any significant dent in violence attributed to drug activity in both countries, according to Bloomberg and the Dallas Morning News.

In fact, as others jockey for position to fill the gap his absence creates, that could lead to an increase, rather than a decrease in violence, observers say.

Nonetheless, “This is a big hit, and you can’t underestimate the signal it sends to the Zetas, and to those within other organizations that have chosen to resort to what can only be called ‘narco-terrorism,’” said Tony Garza, a former U.S. ambassador.

See also: “AG Says 303 Arrested in 19-State Raid of Most Violent Mexican Drug Cartel” “Given Choice of ‘Silver or Lead,’ Lawyer Serving as Mayor of Mexican City, Like Many Others, Is Dead” “US Indicts 24 Claimed Leaders of Mexican Sinaloa Drug Cartel, Offers $5M Reward to Get ‘Shorty’”

Associated Press: “Zetas leader’s arrest unlikely to quell Mexico’s drug war violence “

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