A coal miner in Coahuila, Mexico

A former governor and PRI leader in Mexico has claimed that the Zetas have broadened their activities to include coal mining in the northern state of Coahuila, although evidence for this allegation is scarce.

In an October 26 press conference, former governor and ex-leader of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) Humberto Moreira told reporters that recently-killed Zetas leader Heriberto "Z-3" Lazcano had run illegal coal mining ventures in Coahuila before his death. 

According to Moreira, who served as governor of Coahuila from 2005 to 2011, Lazcano's involvement in illegal mining has been an "open secret" in the state for years, and the Zeta leader even sold coal to the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE). Moreira also claimed that Lazcano was well-known for mining in the municipality of Progreso, where he was killed.

"[Lazcano] would go to the store to buy soda and chips. He did not walk around armed or anything; he was a miner. It may seem unbelieveable, but there it is," the former governor said.

InSight Crime Analysis

Moreira's statements come less than a month after his son was murdered, allegedly by Zetas hitmen.

The claims about Heriberto Lazcano's mining ventures fit with increasing concern in Mexico about the influence of organized crime on mining. With the government cracking down on drug trafficking, Mexican cartels are looking to the country's growing mining industry for revenue. Much of this has taken place in Coahuila, as it is Mexico's top mining state. In May, authorities discovered that criminal gangs had been directly running illegal coal mines in the state.

Moreira's theory would explain Lazcano's apparent lack of concern for his security when he was killed. As crime analyst Alejandro Hope has pointed out, the fact that he was relatively lightly armed and had only minimal protection when he was killed is puzzling. But if he had long been passing himself off as the owner of a mining company in Coahuila, he may have been in the habit of traveling with little security.

Investigations

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

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

The power of Colombia's elites is founded upon one of the most unequal divisions of land in the world. As of the early 21st century, one percent of landowners own more than half the country's agricultural land.1  Under Spanish rule, Colombia's agriculture was organized on the hacienda...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Honduras is currently one of the most violent countries on the planet that is not at war. The violence is carried out by transnational criminal organizations, local drug trafficking groups, gangs and corrupt security forces, among other actors. Violence is the focal point for the international aid...

Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Organized crime and the violence associated with it is the preeminent problem in Latin America and the Caribbean today. The region is currently home to six of the most violent countries in the world that are not at war. Four of those countries are in Central America...

Special Report: Gangs in Honduras

Special Report: Gangs in Honduras

In a new report based on extensive field research, InSight Crime and the Asociacion para una Sociedad mas Justa have traced how Honduras' two largest gangs, the MS13 and the Barrio 18, are evolving, and how their current modus operandi has resulted in staggering levels of violence...

Bolivia: the New Hub for Drug Trafficking in South America

Bolivia: the New Hub for Drug Trafficking in South America

Transnational organized crime likes opportunities and little resistance. Bolivia currently provides both and finds itself at the heart of a new criminal dynamic that threatens national and citizen security in this landlocked Andean nation.

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

As Guatemala's Congress gears up to select new Supreme Court Justices and appellate court judges, InSight Crime is investigating how organized crime influences the selection process. This story details the interests of one particular political bloc vying for control over the courts and what's at stake: millions...

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

In August 2002, the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) greeted Colombia's new president with a mortar attack that killed 14 people during his inauguration. The attack was intended as a warning to the fiercely anti-FARC newcomer. But it became the opening salvo of...

The Urabeños - The Criminal Hybrid

The Urabeños - The Criminal Hybrid

The mad scramble for criminal power in the aftermath of the demobilization of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) is over. The Urabeños, or as they prefer to call themselves, the "Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia," have won.

Mexico's Security Dilemma: The Battle for Michoacan

Mexico's Security Dilemma: The Battle for Michoacan

Faced with the government's failure to rein in the criminals, communities across crime-besieged Mexico have been trying for years to organize effective civic resistance. Michoacan's vigilantes express the most extreme response by society to date, but other efforts have been less belligerent. In battle-torn cities along the...

Uruguay's Marijuana Bill Faces Political, Economic Obstacles

Uruguay's Marijuana Bill Faces Political, Economic Obstacles

If Uruguay's proposal to regulate the production, sale and distribution of marijuana is properly implemented and overcomes political and economic hurdles, it could be the most important drug regulation experiment in decades.