Mexico Security Memo: Los Zetas' Miguel Trevino Morales Under Pressure

3 MINS READJun 20, 2012 | 16:52 GMT
Mexico Security Memo

Three Trevino Arrests and Sinaloa Narcomantas

U.S. authorities on June 11 raided a horse-breeding ranch in Oklahoma that belonged to Jose Trevino Morales, the brother of Zetas leader Miguel "Z-40" Trevino Morales. The operation allegedly served as a money laundering operation for Miguel. The next day, Mexican authorities detained Juan Francisco Trevino Chavez in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, who reportedly is a cousin of Miguel and is the Zetas plaza boss of Nuevo Laredo. In another operation, Mexican authorities detained Erick Jovan Lozano Diaz, the financial operator for Miguel, in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state. Lozano Diaz is allegedly linked to Jose's operations.

Law enforcement pressure on Mexican cartel leaders forces them to rely only on their most trusted associates to fill high-level roles. All three arrestees served such roles for Zetas leader Miguel, forcing him to scramble to find replacements.

Mexico Security Memo: Los Zetas' Miguel Trevino Morales Under Pressure

Mexico Weekly Map June 20, 2012

Though it is unclear if the three law enforcement operations were connected, they coincide with the Sinaloa Federation's efforts since March to isolate Miguel by staging displays of corpses accompanied by anti-Zetas narcomantas. Most of the Sinaloa Federation's narcomantas have been staged in Tamaulipas state and were addressed to Miguel and his brother Omar Trevino Morales.

Interestingly, the messages have not directly mentioned top Zetas leader Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano. Though it is unclear why Sinaloa would target Miguel over Lazcano, there are unconfirmed rumors that Sinaloa wants to eliminate Miguel in hopes of forcing Los Zetas to negotiate on sharing trafficking corridors. Whatever the reason, both Sinaloa and law enforcement efforts to undermine Miguel can be expected to continue, and further successes against his assets and close partners will undermine his power.

Journalist Slain in Veracruz

Mexican authorities discovered the body of Victor Baez, a crime reporter for Milenio's El Portal del Veracruz, on June 14 in Xalapa, Veracruz state. Three armed men reportedly kidnapped Baez when he left work June 13. He is the fourth journalist killed in Xalapa since April 28. The recent killings — in which organized criminal groups likely played a role — highlight the continuing threat to journalists.

Drug cartels often use intimidation to limit what media outlets publish. The press has obliged with self-imposed censorship, particularly in hotly contested cities like Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state — where some media outlets have stopped covering drug violence altogether. 

In addition to limiting the flow of information on the drug war, the cartels try to control what journalists cover. As media outlets are coerced into censoring or altering the information they report to suit the cartels, the cartels do not need to fear that some journalist will contradict their message. The combination of censorship and misinformation makes determining what is actually going on in Mexico's drug war quite challenging.

Editor's Note: As indicated in last week's Mexico Security Memo, the above analysis marks the launch of our revamped memo. The new format reflects our goal to more concisely communicate and analyze the most important trends, tactics and movements happening in Mexico. If you have any comments about this new format, please contact [email protected]

As an additional custom intelligence service geared toward organizations with operations or interests in the region, we now offer the daily Mexico Security Monitor, which provides more detailed and in-depth coverage of the situation. If you are interested in learning about this new fee-based custom service, please contact [email protected]

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