Miguel Angel Treviño, alias "Z-40"

The Mexican Navy is betting that despite the death of Zetas leader Z-3 the group will not enter a period of violent upheaval, with Z-40 rising to take full control of the gang, an assertion that misses signs the group is likely already be in the midst of irreversible fragmentation.

Following the death of Heriberto Lazcano, alias "Z-3," in a firefight with Marines on October 7, spokesman Admiral Jose Luis Vergara indicated that the navy believes that his rival, Miguel Angel Treviño, alias "Z-40," will "definitely" assume total control of the Zetas, reported El Universal. Furthermore, Vergara stated that the navy does not expect an increase in violence or infighting as a result of Z-3's death due to Z-40's "natural" ascent to leadership.

The spokesman added that the navy is "100 percent certain" that Lazcano died on Sunday, despite conspiracy theories he may not have stemming from the fact that Z-3's body was stolen from the funeral home.  According to Excelsior, Z-40 could be behind the theft of the body.

Salvador Martínez Escobedo, alias "La Ardilla," the recently captured Zetas regional boss who is accused of being responsible for over 300 murders, including the massacre of 72 migrants in 2010, was the one who actually identified Lazcano's body, reported Proceso

On October 9, two days after Lazcano's death, the Caballeros Templarios gang announced a crusade against Treviño and his followers, hanging signs, or "narcomantas," throughout Guerrero and Guanajuato states that exhorted citizens to help the Caballeros "stand up" against Z-40, reported Reforma

InSight Crime Analysis

Despite the navy's confidence that Z-40 will consolidate his control over the Zetas, there is a strong possibility that Lazcano's death will hasten the group's fragmentation rather than halt it.

First, in recent months there have been multiple reports of infighting within the group's top leadership, not only between Z-3 and Z-40, but also between Z-40 and the recently captured Zetas regional boss Ivan Velazquez Caballero, alias "El Taliban," who had sided with Z-3.

Second, and most critically, the financial and organizational structure of the Zetas makes its split inevitable. Because half or more of the group's revenues comes from low level criminal activities such as extortion rather than from international cocaine trafficking, mid-level commanders in charge of local cells have few incentives to remain under the bosses' control.

Furthermore, as the Caballeros Templarios' challenge illustrates, Z-40 must not only assert his control over dissident factions of his own group, but also hold off incursions from other gangs that may try and take advantage of the Zetas' weakness. This is the second such threat the Templarios have made against Z-40 after they hung  a narcomanta in August declaring war against the Zetas leader.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Rodrigo Tovar Pupo never imagined it would come to this: dressed in an orange jumpsuit in a Washington DC courtroom and standing in front of a United States federal judge, the grandson of a wealthy Colombian cattle rancher and nephew to a governor was facing a possible...

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

This project defines organized crime as: a structured group of people that associate on a regular and prolonged basis to benefit from illicit activities and illegal markets. This group can be local, national or transnational in nature, and its existence is maintained using violence and threats; corruption...

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Organized crime is not an abstract concept for me. I grew up in Oak Park, a leafy suburb of Chicago with a population of about 60,000. In general, it was a very low crime city, which is perhaps why many mobsters made their homes there, among them...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

As it tends to happen in Honduras, the news began as a well-heeled rumor: Javier Rivera Maradiaga, the oldest of the three Rivera Maradiaga brothers still alive and leader of the feared and powerful Honduran drug trafficking group known as the Cachiros, had handed himself in to...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

On the morning of April 5, 1988, Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros left his palatial Tegucigalpa estate for a jog. Matta Ballesteros was wanted for murder, drug trafficking and other crimes in several countries, but in Honduras he felt safe. He regularly hosted parties for high-level officials at...

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC have always had a love-hate relationship with drugs. They love the money it brings, funds which have allowed them to survive and even threaten to topple the state at the end of the 1990s. They hate the corruption and stigma narcotics have also brought to...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

In the northwest corner of Guatemala, a little known criminal organization known as the "Huistas" dominates the underworld, in large part due its ties with businessmen, law enforcement officials and politicians.

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Like any arm of the justice system, the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala - CICIG) had its battles with elites who used their charm and their muscle to try to influence what and who the celebrated commission...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala is Central America’s most populous country and its largest economy. But an intransigent elite, an ambitious military and a weak state has opened the way for organized crime to flourish, especially since the return of democracy.

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

By the end of 1993, Pablo Escobar was cornered. The cocaine king -- known as "El Patrón" -- was running out of money and options. His top assassins were either dead or had turned themselves in. Almost all of the senior members of the Medellín Cartel were...