MEXICO CITY – Mexican authorities have captured the purported leader of the Los Zetas drug cartel in the country’s southeast, a suspect who was one of their highest-priority targets, officials told EFE on Friday.
Jose Maria Guizar Valencia, alias “Z43” or “Charly,” was on a Mexican government list of its 122 most-wanted suspects, while the United States State Department had offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest.
Based on available information, the suspect was a leader of the Los Zetas cartel in southeastern Mexico; based in Huimanguillo, a municipality in Tabasco state, he allegedly controlled routes used in smuggling drugs from South and Central America to the US.
That drug gang, which was once extremely powerful but has been in decline in recent years, also is accused of running extortion and kidnapping rings in southeast Mexico.
A wave of violence that has affected parts of the world-famous Riviera Maya tourist zone in Mexico’s Caribbean region and the Guatemala-Mexico border region also has been attributed to Los Zetas.
“I fully recognize the investigative work by the Navy Secretariat, in coordination with civil intelligence agencies, in (effecting) the important capture of one of the federal government’s 122 priority targets,” Government Secretary Alfonso Navarrete wrote on Twitter, without providing further details.