Juan Gerardo Treviño Juan Gerardo Treviño after his arrest in Nuevo Laredo Sunday.

Cartel boss’s capture described as a ‘major blow’ against organized crime

Head of Northeast Cartel in custody after clash in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas

Federal authorities have detained the leader of the Northeast Cartel, an arrest described by Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard as one of the most significant of the past decade.

The Ministry of National Defense (Sedena) said in a statement that the army, federal Attorney General’s Office, National Intelligence Center and National Guard collaborated in an operation that resulted in the arrest Sunday of Juan Gerardo Treviño Chávez in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas.

It said that Treviño, also known as “El Huevo,” is the leader of the Northeast Cartel and the Tropa del Infierno (Hell’s Army), the cartel’s armed wing. Those groups are “heirs” to the Zetas criminal organization and instigators of violence in five states, Sedena said.

Treviño was the subject of three arrest warrants: one in Tamaulipas for extortion and criminal association; one in Coahuila for homicide and terrorism; and “one for extradition purposes” for conspiracy to traffic drugs and money laundering.

Sedena said that “El Huevo” – nephew of a former, currently-imprisoned leader of the Zetas known as Z40 – was detained in possession of two weapons whose use is restricted to the armed forces. His arrest came after military personnel came under attack by a group of armed men in Nuevo Laredo, located across the border from Laredo, Texas. Treviño was the only attacker taken into custody.

Video shows the reaction to Treviño’s arrest Monday morning in Nuevo Laredo.


“The arrest of Juan Gerardo, … “El Huevo,” represents a forceful blow to the leadership of the Northeast Cartel,” Sedena said.

Speaking to reporters Monday after a meeting in Mexico City with United States Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Foreign Minister Ebrard said that the arrest was a major blow to organized crime and noted that it occurred within the context of the new Mexico-U.S. security agreement.

“This man Treviño … is one of the main drug trafficking, arms trafficking and people trafficking leaders,” he said. “I believe it’s one of the most important arrests of the last decade.”

The capture triggered a violent response in Nuevo Laredo, where gunfire, the torching of vehicles and blockades on main roads were reported Sunday night and early Monday.

Soldiers were the target of 35 acts of aggression in the hours after Treviño was arrested, El Universal reported. Citing federal sources, the newspaper said that in one attack, the occupants of an armored pickup truck shot at military barracks in Nuevo Laredo. No casualties were reported.

Armed men also shot at the offices of the Tamaulipas Electoral Institute. The United States Consulate General in the northern border city warned of an “emergency situation” near the U.S. consulate in a Twitter post early Monday.

It said later that “due to reports of gunfire overnight near the U.S. Consulate and in locations throughout Nuevo Laredo, U.S. government employees have been advised to continue to shelter in place.”

“U.S. citizens should avoid the areas or continue to shelter in place,” the consulate added.

One Nuevo Laredo family told El Universal that they lived through more than three hours of terror after Treviño was arrested.

“It was like having a war in the backyard of the house because we could even hear the sound of the bullets passing, given that we live two streets from the United States Consulate. We spent the whole time lying on the floor,” one family member said.

“We’re scared. Yesterday on social media they said nobody should go out, that the situation was going to get ugly. We’re going to impose a curfew on ourselves, for safety. … The best thing is to be at home, to not take chances.”

Treviño, a U.S. citizen, was deported and turned over to U.S. authorities at the Tijuana-San Diego border crossing following his arrest.

With reports from El Universal and Milenio

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