16 Jul 2013

Mexican drug cartel boss captured

10:06 pm on 16 July 2013

The Mexican government says the head of the brutal Zetas drug cartel has been captured in the north of the country.

Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, known as Z-40, was captured outside Nuevo Laredo, near the United States border at dawn on Monday (local time).

He took control of the Zetas following the death of its founder in October 2012 and was wanted on both sides of the border for ordering massacres and running drugs on a global scale.

The Zetas were formed by defectors from a Mexican elite police unit and quickly became infamous for their brutality, which included the beheadings of kidnapped migrants and rival gang members, the BBC reports.

Government spokesperson Eduardo Sanchez says marines stopped a pick-up truck containing more than $US2 million in cash and Mr Trevino Morales was taken into custody along with a bodyguard, an accountant and eight guns.

He is believed to be responsible for carrying out several notorious attacks including the torture and murder of 72 Central American immigrants in San Fernando in the northern state of Tamaulipas.

His capture is the highest-profile arrest since President Enrique Pena Nieto came to office last December.

Mr Pena Nieto promised to change the policy of the previous government by tackling the cartels through law enforcement on a local level rather than the capture of big-name targets.