MEXICO CITY – A high-level member of the Los Zetas drug cartel was captured by army troops, the Mexican Defense Secretariat said.
Esteban Luna was the cartel’s boss in Monterrey, the capital of the northern state of Nuevo Leon, and was behind several attacks on army troops and a U.S. consulate, the secretariat said.
Luna took over the cartel’s operations in the industrial city after his brother, Hector Raul Luna, was arrested on June 9.
Three men and a woman were arrested along with Esteban Luna.
The three gunmen had 12 rifles, five handguns and a grenade in their possession, the secretariat said.
One of the suspects, identified as Rene Gonzalez, was behind the kidnappings of several soldiers and attacks on military personnel, the Defense Secretariat said, without providing details on the incidents.
Los Zetas gunmen were involved in an incident earlier this year at a university in Monterrey, the secretariat said.
Monterrey Institute of Technology students Jorge Antonio Mercado Alonso and Javier Francisco Arredondo Verdugo were killed on March 19 when army troops entered the campus in pursuit of suspected drug cartel gunmen during a wild chase through the streets of Monterrey, which is home to many of Mexico’s leading industrial companies.
The cartel’s hired guns were also behind the Oct. 12, 2008, attack on the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey, the secretariat said.
No one was wounded when gunmen opened fire on the diplomatic facility.
Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano deserted from the Mexican army in 1999 and formed Los Zetas with three other soldiers, all members of an elite special operations unit, becoming the armed wing of the Gulf drug cartel.
The Zetas broke with the Gulf cartel several months ago and the two criminal organizations are at war.
The armed group is now in the drug business on its own and controls several lucrative territories.
In February, giant banners heralding an alliance of the Gulf, Sinaloa and La Familia drug cartels against Los Zetas appeared in the northern city of Monterrey.
The cartels arrayed against Los Zetas blame the group’s involvement in kidnapping, armed robbery and extortion for discrediting “true drug traffickers” in the eyes of ordinary Mexicans inclined to tolerate the illicit trade as long as the gangs stuck to their own unwritten rule against harming innocents.
The gang war has especially affected Nuevo Leon and neighboring Tamaulipas state. EFE