MONTERREY, Mexico – Army troops captured 11 suspected Zetas drug cartel gunmen, including seven people wanted for the killings of two soldiers, in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, a 7th Military Zone spokesman said.
The suspects were detained in the cities of Escobedo and Villaldama, the army spokesman said.
The suspected cartel gunmen were paraded before reporters Tuesday at the State Investigations Agency, or AEI, headquarters in Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo Leon.
Six of the suspects, including a woman and a minor, were arrested in Escobedo for participating in a Jan. 20 attack on soldiers that left Cpl. Ramiro Alducin Juarez dead, the army spokesman said.
Another member of the cell, identified as Edvin Ruben Alejo Avila, 18, who also went by the name Edwin Alexis Alejo Avila, confessed that he spied on a soldier who was later kidnapped and killed, the military spokesman said.
This Los Zetas cell was responsible for “different murders, kidnappings, extortion and robberies in the city of Escobedo,” which is in the Monterrey metropolitan area, the army spokesman said.
Information provided by the suspects allowed soldiers to find a clandestine grave containing the body of a woman, the army spokesman said.
Four other suspected Zetas were arrested in Villaldama, a rural city in Nuevo Leon, the 7th Military Zone spokesman said.
Monterrey, Mexico’s most important industrial city, and its suburbs have been battered by a wave of drug-related violence since March 2010, when three rival cartels reportedly went to war with Los Zetas, considered the country’s most violent criminal organization.
Los Zetas has been battling an alliance of the Gulf, Sinaloa and La Familia drug cartels, known as the Nueva Federacion, for control of the Monterrey metropolitan area and smuggling routes into the United States.
Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, known as “El Lazca,” 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.
After several years on the payroll of the Gulf cartel, Los Zetas, considered Mexico’s most violent criminal organization, went into the drug business on their own account and now control several lucrative territories.
Los Zetas has been blamed for several massacres in recent years.
The cartel was accused of being behind the Aug. 23, 2010, massacre of 72 migrants, the majority of them from Latin America, at a ranch outside San Fernando, a city in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas.
Los Zetas has also been blamed for the massacre of 27 peasants in May at a ranch in Guatemala’s Peten province, which borders Mexico and Belize.
Zetas gunmen set fire to the Casino Royale in Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo Leon, on Aug. 25, killing 52 gamblers and employees trapped inside, most of whom died of smoke inhalation. EFE