GUATEMALA CITY – A man reputed to be running a cell of the Mexico-based Los Zetas drug cartel in the northwestern province of Huehuetenango was arrested, the Guatemalan Attorney General’s Office said Thursday.
Daniel Juan Nicolas, a Guatemalan national, was detained Wednesday in Sinlaj, a community just 100 meters (328 feet) from the Mexican border, Attorney General Claudia Paz said.
Nicolas, who faces charges of homicide and criminal conspiracy, has been running the Zetas’ operation in Sinlaj for 10 months, according to investigators.
The Zetas use Sinlaj to warehouse drugs and guns and as a training camp, the AG’s office said.
Nicolas’ apprehension was the fruit of cooperation between the AG’s office and the ministries of defense and interior.
Guatemalan security officials said Tuesday that they are on alert for increased violence in their country stemming from a rumored split in the leadership of Los Zetas.
More than 100 Zetas have been captured and at least 42 sentenced to prison terms by Guatemalan courts since 2008, when the cartel began operating in the Central American country to control drugs routes running from South America to the United States.
The Zetas, founded by deserters from a U.S.-trained Mexican special forces unit, started out as the armed wing of the Gulf cartel, but the two organizations had a falling out in 2010 and the Zetas went into the drug business on their own account, gaining control of several lucrative territories.
Even in the violent world of Mexican organized crime, the Zetas stand out for their brutality. EFE