Mexican authorities have captured two of the country’s most wanted drug lords within the past week.
Mexico’s most wanted drug lord, Servando “La Tuta” Gomez, was captured on February 27.
The head of the Knights Templar drug trafficking organisation, Gomez controlled the narcotics trade throughout the Mexican state of Michoacan. His capture was followed by the arrest of Omar Treviño Morales, the head of the notorious Zetas cartel.
The arrests could give a boost to embattled Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who is facing significant disapproval after local politicians colluded in the murder of 43 students in Guerrero state in September. The students are thought to have been abducted by corrupt police officers and handed over to a gang.
Even with these recent captures, a number of high-ranking cartel members remain at large.
Ismael Zambada Garcia, also known as 'El Mayo,' is the head of one of the factions of the Sinaloa Cartel. He first gained notoriety in the 1990s as a principal coordinator for several drug-trafficking groups. His connections allowed him to move up the ranks quickly, and by the 2000s his Zambada-Garcia Organisation was moving tons of cocaine into the US via trucks, aeroplanes, and cars.
El Mayo was indicted by the US on January 28, 2003. The State Department has issued a $US5 million reward for information that leads to his arrest or conviction.
Jose Maria Guizar Valencia is unique among wanted members of the Mexican cartels in that he holds US citizenship. Guizar controls an independent faction of the Zetas in the south of the country along the border with Guatemala.
The State Department believes that Guizar traffics thousands of kilograms of cocaine and methamphetamine into the US every year. Under his command, the Zetas are also believed to have carried out systematic terror campaign against Guatemalan civilians along the border.
Juan Jose Esparragoza Moreno, also known as 'El Azul,' is a member of the Sinaloa Cartel as well as a inter-cartel peace facilitator. He was previously part of the Guadalajara Cartel and the Juarez Cartel before joining the Sinaloa in 2001.
Esparragoza reportedly died of a heart attack on June 7, 2014. But the US government isn't taking any chances and the State Department still lists him as wanted. There's precedent for Mexican drug lords faking their deaths to avoid prosecution: Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, the former head of the Knights Templar, pretended to be dead for four years.
Rafael Caro-Quintero is one of the grandfathers of the Mexican Cartels. Caro-Quintero is one of the former heads of the now defunct Guadalajara Cartel and he is thought to have played a key role in the 1985 kidnapping, torture, and execution of US Agent Enrique 'Kiki' Camarena and a pilot assisting him, Alfredo Zavala Avelar .
Caro-Quintero was arrested by Mexico in 1989 although he was freed in 2013 on a technicality. Immediately, the US offered a $US5 million reward for his arrest and Mexico offered a new warrant for his apprehension -- but he was already underground.
Juan Reyes Mejia-Gonzalez is a key drug shipment facilitator for the Gulf Cartel. The State Department accuses him of having played a pivotal role in the shipment of cocaine from Central and South America to Mexico, as well as the shipment of drugs within Mexico around Nuevo Lardeo and Reynosa, along the US-Mexican border.
The State Deoartment is offering a $US5 million reward for information on Mejia-Gonzales.
Edgardo Leyva Escandon, also known as 24, is a member of Mexico's Tijuana Cartel. Leyva has served as an enforcer for the organisation and has been utilized as a sniper, contract killer, and arms supplier.
The State Department has placed a $US2 million bounty on Leyva. He has been on the run since the capture of the Tijuana Cartel's leader, Javier Arellano Feliz, aboard a recreational fishing boat in 2006.
Fausto Isidro Meza Flores, also known as 'Chapo' or 'Chapito,' is a rising star in the Mexican illicit narcotics industry. He has operated at various levels in the Beltran Leyva Organizaton since the 1990s, starting off as muscle before steadily gaining influence.
In 2013, the US Department of Treasury listed Isidro and his Meza Flores Organisation as a Drug Trafficking Organisation.
Juan Pablo Ledezma, also known as 'El JL,' is the top lieutenant of the La Linea gang, which operates as the armed wing of the Juarez Cartel. Ledezma is believed to have ordered attacks throughout Juarez against police and members of the rival Sinaloa Cartel, causing an upsurge of violence in the city.
Ledezma has a 15 million peso bounty from the Mexican government ($US987,000).
Eduardo Ravela, also known as 'Tablas,' is the captain of the Barrio Azteca. The group functions as contract hitmen for the Juarez Cartel. Ravelo has carried out a string of murders throughout Juarez, and is also known to have ties to the neighbouring city of El Paso, Texas.
The FBI lists Ravelo as one of its ten most wanted fugitives. He has a $US100,000 bounty on his head and is considered armed and extremely dangerous.
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