Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Friday, August 23, 2019

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

By Chivis Martinez Borderland Beat - from BB archives originally published April 27, 2018
A republished post from 2018 updated

“El Huevo” CDN Supreme Leader
Los Zetas

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’.

They handed Lalo  over to Carlos Arnulfo Flores Flores, El Flaco, head of Los Zetas in Acuna presented as the alleged perpetrator of the crime, who was accompanied by Ruben Sifuentes Cadena, ‘El Shaggy’.

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".

Kiko was arrested on September 28, 2016 in Baytown Texas, a city located on the gulf coast, about 25 miles from Houston.  He was sentenced to two life sentences. 

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.

Foto before attack 
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.


  1. The Zetas still exist? I thought Chapo wiped them out. Sounds like they like dying

    1. lol chapo was fearless. He was gangsta

    2. You must have been in a coma for a while Chapo never cleaned out the zetas and he never will.. eres un pendejo cual pinche Chapo

    3. “Dónde quiera voy. Señor,…yo, a donde usted quiera voy. Si quiere voy pa’ Tamaulipas también, no hay pedo—donde sea”

    4. Chapo was never gangsta. He showed his true colors while in court....he was, always has been and still is a whiny lil b1tch.

    5. Chapo & the whole CDS never whipped the Zetas. It was the other way around Dum Zetas took control of more than half of Mexico & most of all South America. To top it off Chapo & CDS was never able to take on Los Beltranes it was the government that did it thanks to betrayals between the Beltran organization.

  2. El oaxaco of zve was about to exterminate cdn. He actually made it to laredo before getting arrested. Cdn wld of been wiped out. Lazcano was the example of why a sicario shld stay a sicario. Hes cartel didnt last for shit. Then again he made the horrible mistake of making treviño a high ranking members bypassing real zetas and it all went to shit. The cdn shld be wiped out just like jaliscas shld be wiped out Laredo is a great plaza for any cartel that takes it over from them.

    1. It's not gonna happen anytime soon.the best way to do it wouldn't be would be to go in and spread money these comandantes real money and they'll switch up

    2. Pobre pendejo and the next cartel that if ever gets to control the plaza of laredo guess what they will do the same shit cdnz do. Stop acting like if there's a cartel less evil they all will kill u if u mess with their business

    3. Nobody was gonna wipe out shit! are you forgetting that the CDN has thee stronghold of NL which is a untouched old Zeta plaza? you think they are weak? Nuevo Laredo Zetas were on the high offensive back then so don't be surprised if they reactivate

  3. Kiko Trevino when arrested in the US refused to coperate in any way,he will never get out of jail,he wouldnt talk in any way consequently he was given life

  4. I hadn't read this one. Excellent 👍

  5. Chivis, I have a great deal of respect for the work that you and your counterparts have and continue to do. The only thing that I cannot understand is your downplay of the Trevino bros role. Yes Lazca was brutal hence the "executioner" title was well deserved. Your connection and insight particularly in coahuila indicates close ties that few have or understand. I will tell you that your downplay of Miguel and Omar and their roles is dangerous and misguided. Yes the "baby boiling 40 is the devil" may be exaggerated but in the history of Cartel violence never was one so feared as Z0. No real news escaped coahuila even through the brave reporters of the BB for many years. I was there through much of that and can tell you 40 is one of the most dangerous sadistic animals to ever walk MX soil. If you are interested in more detail we can talk one day but I am not inclined to discuss here. Saludos

    1. I don't mean to imply that the trevinos were saints. I can only report of what I know. trevinos would have done much the same if they were given the 'duty'. although Lazca was more like kiko. not miguel or omar. they in fact held kiko back.

      an outwardly proof is when the sadistic killing began stopped and resumed. Yes I was privy first hand to much of what happened during that time. somethings i have shared. email jme anytime. I love coahuila. I especially love the people. My best friend in Mexico lives in acuna. There is a rich culture and character in the capital city of saltillo.

      and I do know of some killings ordered by 40 in the early days. but in general the enforcement and settling of scores were lazca.

    2. Chivis
      In your opinion currently is it safe to visit Acuña between hours of 9am-3pm if you stay near the main mercado?

    3. The reason he was feared is because he killed people just for the heck of it and killed many innocent people

    4. I would not try to stop anyone I love from visiting Acuna or even PN. There has been an uptick in violence but even the state department gives a nod until midnight. from midnight to 6AM there is a curfew imposed on gov employees incl Laughlin Air Force Base adjacent to acuna on the texas side of the rio in del rio.

    5. big killings did stop after lazcas death. he also would pick up migrants and innocents dismember and throw with a message. Like the 49 people dismember and decapitated in Cadereyta. killings continue enemy against enemy but not like they were before. everyone willing to speak of it agreed lazca was the one who hungry for blood. that is the job osiel hired him for

    6. Lazcano was the enforcer and miguel the drug dealer he was a big deal even when in the gulf cartel people didnt start hearing about him until el chapo tried to take over Laredo

  6. CDN have some serious firepower and have nectar lima on lock...10

    1. If they keep doing these childish things like these they just might loose it to some one who knows how to run the show, attacking the po pos is a big mistake, maybe once or twice but if you keep at it eventually it will catch up to you

  7. So it wasn’t true that he was captured?

    1. evidently not. universal ran the story but stated presumedly not definitely.

  8. So r things getting better?????

  9. Since when are these guys referred to as 'supreme leader?' It sounds like a head of a rogue totalitarian state or nation.

    1. i agree. it's the press. they --premier, ultimate, supreme, top dog pick your poison.

    2. Haha Chivis! True dat...

    3. The most senior military officer of NATO, an American, is Suprem Allied Comander general Tod D. Walters. Don't let the "supreme" throw you off.

  10. Le dicen el güevo juegas

  11. When I first started reading about the drug war, I must say the Zetas fascinated me the most—their cruelty, their savagery, their thirst for blood 🤨 bunch of sick ass individuals... I’ll never believe the “they were so poor they had no other choice” nahhhh these men weren’t doing this for money, or at least not just for money, it was a morbid pleasure, a ellos les gustaba muchísimo lo que hacían. No other cartel frightened me like the Zetas

    1. That was the point of killing people the way they did to install fear into their rivals and it worked it still does

  12. Fucking scumbags who transformed Mexico to what its become.

    1. No the people elect politicos who let it happen. Move to the U S

  13. The zetas seem darker with more Indian features than the cartels on the west side of Mexico ...

    1. Zetas had the backing of the Mexican military, they were the Champs because of their commission, to take drug traffickers'turf and money making operations, and to share with the Military Zone Commanders, Coahuila had a new residential development for military retirees who used their strategy and experience to steal the business from Old Mustache Petes like Don Juan Nepomuceno Guerra, Osiel Cardenas, and his brother Tony torments;

    2. So the Mexican government used them...

  14. CDG Matamoros is the only Cartel able to fight against CDN especially if it wasn’t for el pendejo de Vaquero. They know lot about who is who & what is where from the CDN in los 2 Laredo’s & Nuevo León.


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