Zetas leader captured by Mexican marines, authorities confirm

MEXICO CITY — Miguel Angel Treviño Morales, or “40,” leader of the brutal Zetas paramilitary drug cartel, has been captured, authorities on both sides of the border confirmed.

Known as much for his brutality as for his binational ties, Treviño Morales, who has ties to the Dallas area, was captured by Mexican marines early Monday near the border town of Nuevo Laredo, signaling the biggest victory against organized crime for the presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto. The Zetas’ rise to power in Mexico changed the dynamics and ushered in a new era of violence across the country.

A picture obtained by The Dallas Morning News showing a beaten and bruised and somewhat overweight Treviño Morales was taken hours after his detention, one official said.

“He had a reputation of leading the most vicious group in Mexico,” said one law enforcement official. “This is a huge symbolic way to end his career.”

The capture of Treviño Morales, 40, drew immediate reactions on both sides of a border he had terrorized for years.

The fact he was captured without a fight caught some, including former FBI agent Arturo Fontes by surprise. Fontes has been tracking Treviño Morales for nearly a decade and believed that he would never be captured alive.

“He had told his closest associates he’d rather be captured dead than alive,” he said, adding that the region and “Mexico in general is breathing a sign of relief today. I’m especially pleased for so many families, so many victims who may now be able to know what happened to their loved ones. Who killed them and why?”

Mexican intelligence officials, with some help from U.S. intelligence, had been monitoring the area for months.

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