The alleged leader of the Zetas drug cartel who was apprehended Thursday in Mexico City had been hiding out in the capital for the past six months, according to an intelligence report seen by the newspaper Milenio.
During his time in the city, José María Guízar Valencia was a regular attendant and bettor at the horse racing track Hipódromo de las Américas, Milenio reported.
Known also as El Z-43 and El Amo (The Master), the narco boss lived in a hotel suite in the trendy Roma district, for which he paid a monthly rent of 20,000 pesos (US $1,070).
According to the intelligence report, Guízar continued to manage the cartel’s drug trafficking and organized crime activities in the southeast of the country while residing in Mexico City.
Prior to his arrest, the United States government had offered a US $5 million reward for his capture.
But in Mexico City, Guízar didn’t have a security detail, preferring to attempt to fly under the radar of authorities.
While previously living in Chiapas and Veracruz, Guízar was always accompanied by personal bodyguards and sicarios, or hitmen who, while under his command, are believed to have been responsible for unleashing a wave of violence in those states.
His efforts to go unnoticed in Mexico City, however, were unsuccessful.
Federal authorities monitored Guízar’s movements in the capital, including his frequent visits to the race track in the Miguel Hidalgo borough, allowing them to prepare the operation to detain him.
As he returned to his hotel Thursday, Federal Police and marines swooped in and took him into custody in the same neighborhood where he was living. Not a single shot was fired.
His arrest represented the end of an era dominated by 10 Zetas leaders, who appear together in a photograph obtained by Milenio. It shows Guízar and the other narcos arm in arm at a wedding in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, in 2010.
At the time, the cartel was at the peak of its powers after it had broken away from the Gulf Cartel to become a criminal organization in its own right.
Its founders were Mexican army commandos who deserted to form the Gulf Cartel’s enforcement arm. As the Zetas, they went to earn a name for themselves as one of the most “violent, ruthless and dangerous cartels” in Mexico, in the words of the U.S. government.
However, between 2011 and 2015, all nine of the cartel operatives that appeared in the photo with Guízar were either detained or killed.
With the downfall of each Zetas legend — they had aliases which included Pinky, the Squirrel, the Frog and the Rooster Commander — the cartel’s power was further diminished.
Guízar, the last of the 10 to fall, was one of the federal government’s 122 key targets for arrest.
National Security Commissioner Renato Sales said the United States government has already requested Guízar’s extradition because warrants for his arrest have been issued in the U.S. cities of Washington, Dallas and Laredo.
U.S. authorities say Guízar has been responsible for importing thousands of kilograms of cocaine and methamphetamine into the United states on a yearly basis.
However, authorities also have the option to proceed with the case against him in the Mexican justice system.
Guízar is accused of arms trafficking, organized crime, homicide and kidnapping in Tabasco, Puebla and Chiapas.
Source: Milenio (sp)