Mexico: Zetas cartel survives drug kingpin's death

The Arizona 10,000

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When Evil Tries to Look Good

The death of the Zetas cartel leader Heriberto Lazcano marks another in a series of takedowns of Mexico’s most wanted capos, otherwise known as the “kingpin strategy”. This strategy implies that once the leader or kingpin of the cartel is taken arrested or killed, the cartel will crumble. However, this has not proven to be the case.


Of the 37 capos identified in 2009 as Mexico’s most wanted men, 25 have now been captured or killed. Undoubtedly Lazcano (pictured right) was the biggest catch of them all, and of the Mexican criminals whose notoriety is comparable to Lazcano’s, only four remain at large: Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, Servando “ La Tuta” Gomez, Juan Jose “ El Azul” Esparragoza, and Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

While this is a tremendous triumph for Mexico, the violence and cartel influence continues to be strong. Even when the arrest of a capo does lead to a group’s disintegration, this does not mean that its members decide to adopt law-abiding lifestyles. Many times they splinter into smaller organizations, all vying for power.[i]

Within the Zeta’s organization, a new group, “The Legionaries”, have formed with the sole purpose of taking down the newly appointed Zeta’s leader, Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, “Z-40”. In classic cartel style, the Legionaries displayed a narco banner stating their plans:

“The Legionaries are a group of renegade Zetas who were betrayed by “Z-40.” […] The Legionaries have the clear mission only to kill people from the Zetas and their families … an eye for an eye. Our business is solely and exclusively drug trafficking. We respect the federal forces and their fight to end the narco.”[ii] (“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil… ” Isaiah 5:20)

It is not unusual for a new organization to attempt to come across as good citizens. Drug gangs often try to distinguish themselves from each other by claiming to be morally superior to their rivals, stating that they plan to focus on shipping drugs rather than extortion or kidnapping, and refraining from killing civilians.

Is there hope that the grip of the cartels will be loosened and trafficking, drugs, and violence will cease? God reminds us, the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the LORD will possess the land (Psalm 37:9).


  • We praise you, Mighty God, that the cartels have been shaken. We thank you that so many kingpins have been captured; we thank you for hearing our cries for the people of Mexico.
  • We ask you to continue to break the foundation of the cartels so that there will be a complete crumbling of their organizational structure. We call for the four main leaders to be captured and held accountable for their evil deeds.
  • We implore of you, God of Hope, to bring light and encouragement to the people of Mexico. May they see your hand at work and stand firm in the knowledge that you have a plan for their future of good and prosperity. (Jer. 29:11).

There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 23:18

[i] Corcoran, Patrick. “Mexico Takes Down Another Kingpin, but Conflict Rages On – InSight Crime | Organized Crime in the Americas.” Mexico Takes Down Another Kingpin, but Conflict Rages On. N.p., 18 Oct. 2012. Web. 25 Oct. 2012. <>.

[ii]  Stone, Hannah. “Zetas Splinter Group Announces Mission to Kill Z-40 – InSight Crime | Organized Crime in the Americas.” Zetas Splinter Group Announces Mission to Kill Z-40. N.p., 23 Oct. 2012. Web. 25 Oct. 2012. <>.


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