The Mexican Secretary of the Navy announced that on Sept. 26, Mexican marines arrested Ivan "El Taliban" Velazquez Caballero, also known as "Z-50," a dissident Los Zetas plaza boss operating primarily in Zacatecas and San Luis Potosi states. According to the navy, the arrest took place in San Luis Potosi state and Mexican officials presented Velazquez to the media in the morning on Sept. 27.
Velazquez had engaged in a heated dispute with Los Zetas leader Miguel "Z-40" Trevino Morales, that led him to split from Los Zetas and join forces with the Gulf cartel. Then, over the past week we have seen narcomantas posted in several areas of Michoacan, Nuevo Leon, Gurrero, Guanajuato, Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas states denouncing Trevino and reaffirming the alliance of the Gulf cartel, Velazquez and the Knights Templar.
The Gulf cartel has been hit very hard in recent weeks by a series of arrests of senior leaders, such as Jorge Eduardo "El Coss" Costilla Sanchez on Sept. 12, Juan Gabriel "El Sierra" Montes Sermeno on Sept. 11, Mario "El Gordo" Cardenas Guillen on Sept. 3 and David "El Commandante Diablo" Rosales Guzman on Sept. 2.
Velazquez had been a relatively low-level plaza boss in Los Zetas, but had rapidly gained notoriety in recent months — especially as a result of his feud with Trevino. Given the losses the Gulf cartel has suffered, the defection of Velazquez to the Gulf cartel appeared to give the organization new strength and perhaps even a potential new leader for its war against Los Zetas. The combination of Velazquez's Zetas faction with the Gulf cartel and Knights Templar appeared as if it could pose a serious threat to Los Zetas, since the alliance controlled territory surrounding Los Zetas' base of operations in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, and Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state. However, the fall of Velazquez will likely relieve some of the pressure on Los Zetas in San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas states. This may also help lessen the violence that has flared up there due to the Velazquez-Trevino feud.
Like Costilla Sanchez, Mario Cardenas Guillen and Rosales Guzman, Velazquez was arrested without a shot being fired. It is very likely that the Mexican marines were acting on excellent intelligence — intelligence that may have been provided by Trevino in an effort to use the Mexican military as a weapon against his opponents. As the Gulf cartel continues to be weakened, it will increase the likelihood of Los Zetas attempting to seize control of Gulf territory in Mexico's northeastern region.