Miguel Morales, Mexico's sadistic drug lord, captured
Arrest of Zetas cartel chief hailed as major victory for authorities fighting bloody drug wars
THE ARREST of Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, a sadistic Mexican drug lord known to have burned and dismembered his opponents while they were still alive, is a major victory for authorities fighting the country's "bloody narco-wars", says The Times.
Morales, 40, who is also known by his alias 'Z-40', was the head of the Zetas drug cartel, a group renowned for torturing and killing anyone who stood in its way. He was captured in a dawn raid this morning when a helicopter carrying Mexican Marines dropped in front of his pick-up truck on a country road near Nuevo Laredo, a city bordering Texas.
Morales was carrying $2 million in cash, eight weapons and 500 rounds of ammunition, but surrendered without firing a shot. Two other men, believed to be a bodyguard and an "operative tasked with finances", were arrested with him.
The Times says the capture of Morales is the "biggest victory yet" in the battle against the gangs responsible for transporting drugs, guns and illegal immigrants over the US border. More than 35,000 people have been killed in the past three years as Mexican authorities battled both Zetas and the rival Gulf cartel in what has been described as a "three-way war".
US authorities offered $5 million for information leading to the capture of Morales while Mexico pledged $2.3 million.
Mexico's drug wars are renowned for their violence, but Morales had a taste for killing that set him apart. Some of his victims were dispatched using a "guiso" (cook-out), where people were put into an oil barrel, doused with petrol, then set on fire to burn alive. Others who stood in his way were dismembered while they were still alive.
According to reports from within Zetas, Morales also enjoyed driving around a town and pointing to people at random, saying "kill this one and that one".
Morales has been flown to Mexico City, where he will eventually be tried for crimes including multiple murders, drug trafficking, torture and money laundering. The closed justice system "usually takes years to prosecute cases, particularly high-profile ones", The Times says.