Los Zetas: Overview of events leading to its dissension, split and transformation

Latin America World
By Chivis Martinez Borderland Beat – from BB archives originally published April 27, 2018

A republished post from 2018 updated

As of December 2016 Los Zetas Group Bravo (Groupo Bravo) and Zetas Vieja Escuela (Old School Zetas) formed an alliance with the Gulf cartel to fight against Cartel Del Noreste (Cartel of the Northeast-Trevino group).

Once upon a time it was all so much easier for the Los Zetas cartel.  The group was formed by CDG supreme leader Osiel Cardenas as an enforcer group.  This worked well  under the direction of Cardenas.
It was subsequent to the arrest of Cardenas, and the weak leadership that followed, that Zetas became a power in their own right with infighting resulting in  their independence and  eventual split from CDG under the leadership of Heriberto Lazcano aka ‘Lazca”  or “Z3” in 2010.  He selected Miguel Trevino Morales “Z40” to share leadership, with Lazca taking the enforcement portion of operational leadership and “40” trafficking and diversification.  Folklore has “40” as the sadistic baby boiler and black hearted killer when in fact Lazca was in charge of killings, “settling” of scores and enforcement’s.
Nephew for Nephew
October 2012 a pivotal month in Zetas History
In 2012 the nephew, Alexander Trevino Chavez, of “40” was killed by Coahuila state police. In retaliation,  it was Lazca who quickly called for the murder of Lalo Moreira in Acuna, Coahuila. 
“Nephew for Nephew” the narco banner read; Lalo was the son of former Coahuila Govvernor,

Humberto Moreira and the nephew of the governor Ruben Moreira. Humberto was given the title of ‘Zeta Governor’ for the broad favor he allegedly gave to the cartel.

Lazca blamed Ruben for sending forces to Pideras Negras which resulted in the shootout and death of “40’s” nephew.  Hence, “Nephew for Nephew”.
When arrested, Miguel Trevino, aka “Z40” in 2013 and Lazca’s best friend Salvador Alfonso Martinez Escobedo aka “La Ardilla”, “The Squirrel” in 2012, they each said Lazca ordered the killing.
PGR said the same at the time of the arrest of “Z40”;

“In the case of the murder of Jose Eduardo Moreira nickname ‘Lalo’ (committed on October 3, 2012), Z-40 does not accept responsibility as such, says he is completely disconnected from it and points outside the ministerial records, which establishes  Lazcano as the mastermind”.

Same info came from The Squirrel in records of PGR and state investigations. 
And in transcripts after “Ardillas” arrest, from messages gleaned from cell phones.
Government statement:

“In the material, it established that Heriberto Lazcano, El Lazca, reported the same day that Alexander Treviño Chavez, nephew of the Z-40, had been killed by Coahuila state police, along with four members of his criminal organization.

That news surprised La Ardilla, who assumed that the death occurred in ‘their place’, Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, where Miguel Trevino was at the time.
According to the transcripts, Lazcano said that the death of Trevino’s nephew had occurred in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, and made it clear “I have already taken care of the matter, the murder of a relative of Governor Ruben Moreira”.
It is also clear that Lazcano gave the order to avenge the death of Alejandro Treviño Chavez. The nephew of Trevino who was living in Laredo, Texas, his body was claimed by his American widow.
Revenge was executed three hours later and the victim, Lalo Moreira, the Governor of Coahuila’s nephew, was shot and killed as he sat in his truck.  His escort and armored truck was retrieved by the governor just weeks prior, the governor advised his nephew to reply on Acuna’s municipal police force.
Advice that proved to be his death sentence.
To commit the crime, officials narrated, El Lazca instructed that Miguel Angel Rodríguez Díaz, Alfa Metro, zeta boss in northern Coahuila to coordinate the operation. After receiving the order, Rodríguez Díaz asked for support from the military collusion with the group, particularly the operating deputy director of Acuña police, Rodolfo Castillo Montes.
Being aware of the request from Lazcano, the command contracted for the son of Humberto Moreira, the former national leader of the PRI, who resided in Acuna, “should be given an request to meet a municipal police supervisor as a ploy.”
When Lalo, a father of an infant,  arrived  for the meeting, at the side of a quiet road, he was met by the police supervisor of Acuna, Victor Landeros Sifuentes, ‘La Iguana’, and Officer Jorge Tenorio Takajasi, ‘El Taka’.

The body was found on October 3rd at 10 pm, three hours after being killed.”
Lazca gunned down by Mexican Navy
Lazca was killed by Mexican Navy on October 8th “Z40” ordered Lazca’s body taken from mortuary

When Lazca was shot down in Sabinas, Coahuila, the big gruesome murders stopped.  No more mass dismemberment’s, decapitations, which were regular terror and display from the Zetas when Lazca was at the helm.  Killings were no longer in theater, as the method from Lazca.

On a side note, I was up close and personal all during the time of these events.  I knew Lalo.  He was a good kid, a love child of Humberto who publicly acknowledged Lalo’s parentage when Lalo was 18.  Lalo was never raised or lived with Humberto and lived a simpler life as a public servant, in a humble town of Acuna Coahuila.  It was his service that prompted his calling my office for help on a project.  And later others like Hurricane Alex.   He rejected his father’s invitation to move to Saltillo, the state capital, and work under his wing.
As for the killing of Lalo.  There is an interesting story pertaining to AFTER the murder, on the night thereof.
6 of those involved, including “el Shaggy”, were shot bound and tossed into Rio Bravo.
“Polizetas” killers of Lalo, El Shaggy at far right

Shaggy lived through the ordeal and floated to the Rio Grande side of Del Rio where he was spotted by BP and taken to the Del Rio hospital.   This was mentioned in a DR paper without identification of ‘the victim’.  Shaggy gave his surname as “Lima” 
Nothing in the Mexico side news. I was given the information, where me and my friend in Acuna, “Lacy”, gathered information that positively identified Shaggy.
When arrested, Shaggy had been signaled by the Attorney office of Coahuila as “one of the alleged intellectual authors of the homicide of the son of the former governor and former leader of PRI Humberto Moreira.”
What happened next is more of an example how autonomously U.S. agencies operate and why things can fall through a hole of incompetency.   I do not feel safe by sharing the reminder of the story.  I will say Shaggy was handed his freedom by the US and was bused to the international bridge in Acuna, where the “wanted for murder” fugitive, slipped into Mexico.  He was picked up by Mexico in Monclova Coahuila a few weeks later, still bearing facial scars from his ordeal with the Zetas.
After the death of Lazca, “Z40” brought his brother Omar aka “Z42” to the leadership rank.  The brothers would not lead together for long.
 In 2013, Miguel Trevino Morales was arrested outside Sabinas.
Omar was given the reigns to leadership.  Their nephew Kiko was assisting his uncle.  This was a slippery slope.  Kiko is in line with the Lazca enforcement style. His uncles worked hard to keep him in check.  But after the arrest of Omar in 2015 all bets were off.  “Kiko’s” real name  Juan Francisco Treviño renamed the group to CDN or Cartel del Northeast. The brutal violence erupted.   The cartel splintered with another group calling itself Old School Zetas or Zetas “Vieja Escuela”.
Old School rejected Kiko as leader and on narco banners say they are in opposition to CDN because of their crimes against innocents and violence. They’re solely interested in trafficking

“Operative Group Zetas: We make a call to all the authorities, and in which we separate ourselves from the CDN (Northeast Cartel) which is commanded by Kiko Treviño, and in Victoria city by its subordinate alias the boss who is killing innocent people and making Tamaulipas a chaos. Cd Mante San Fernando and the norias is again old school territory, make no mistake traitors only come to claim those who belong to us.”

Kiko Treviño took the power of the Zeta faction of Nuevo Laredo after the organization plunged into

a dispute over leadership; struggles that have weakened it, and resulted in its losing    influence in the region against its rival: the Gulf Cartel.

After the split Zetas no longer function as a centralized organization. They currently operate as a federation of organizations for example: The Veracruz, Tabasco and Cancun etc.
Organizational structure change
The original Zetas operated on a military discipline, with a business model of 50/50 of drug trafficking and diversification’s such as fuel theft, knock offs of just about any product including MS Software, and other intellectual products, clothing etc., human trafficking, sex trade, extortion, kidnapping etc.  This gave the group a wide base of revenue not reliant on drug trafficking alone, and not reliant on revenue gained outside its border because much of the diversification funds came within Mexico.
They operated a three tier organizational structure with its leadership at top, business contractors in middle tier, and low level filled with members, foot soldiers, Halcones.
CDN Halcones (Lookouts) in Nuevo Laredo
The development of the halcon network was innovative and critical to the organization.  Young persons between ages of 14 to early 20s, scrutinized the cities and reported to plaza bosses via Nex-Tel’s. 
Halcones were easily noticed throughout drug trafficking cities.  Zetas also created a radio network in the northeast area of Mexico, eg Coahuila and Tamaulipas.
Zetas had a network of “plazas” that has a plaza boss appointed for each and a state or large region “jefe”.
Conversely, CDN eliminated the concept of plaza boss, using commander designations for small areas, even as small as a colonia or city.
For each of the cities controlled by the organization, the commanders are appointed, who are in charge of enforcing the orders and keeping the gangs that work for the cartel controlled. These commanders change constantly because they are regularly the targets and easiest to eliminate thereby becoming the main objectives of the authorities and rival gangs.
At the point of his leadership, Kiko was the sole leader over the Zetas federation.
Old School and CDG
The “Old School” faction allied itself with a CDG cell that operates in the capital of Tamaulipas that calls itself “Grupo Bravo”.
The group of the Zetas “Old School” had offered a million pesos for the head of Kiko Treviño.

The leader who replaced Kiko, is another Trevino,  his son Juan Gerardo Trevino Chavez , also known as “El Huevo”.
El Huevo was the leader of another group known as Los Treviño, which has a long history in Nuevo Laredo.
El Huevo has the CDN base, the all-important trafficking gateway city of Nuevo Laredo, on lock.   No other organization manages to enter, however CDN is still engaged in a bloody fight against the Zetas Escuela Vieja [ZVE].
ZVE has a home base in Ciudad Victoria, and a presence throughout Tamaulipas.

Huevo is a much different leader than Kiko.  He is organized and a long vision planner. More like Miguel before him. Whereas Kiko had no interest in advancement, Huevo is attempting advancement in Tamaulipas and control of Monterrey. A recent example is CDN’s invasion into the city of Miguel Aleman, a CDG stronghold.
El Huevo, was named by the Secretary of the Navy  as the person responsible for ambushing three times members of the Mexican  Navy  in Nuevo Laredo.
The ultra-violent paramilitary style enforcer group, Tropa del Infierno, operates under the direction of El Huevo.  They move around in large convoys of green vehicles bearing their identification.  They are heavily equipped with weaponry including 50 cal, and grenade launchers.

Below is an example of an intense shootout Tropa Del Infierno has engaged in against elements of Mexico’s Sedena.  This occurring today at 2:30AM, on the Nuevo Laredo-Monterrey Road.