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Heriberto Lazcano, a Zetas leader, was killed in Mexico - but is the cartel done?

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Mexico's Attorney General's Office/AP/File

(Read caption) This undated file photo, downloaded from Mexico's Attorney General's Office most wanted criminals Web page November 2010, shows alleged Zetas drug cartel leader and founder Heriberto Lazcano in an undisclosed location. The Mexican Navy says on Monday, Oct. 8, that Mr. Lazcano has apparently been killed in a firefight with marines in the Mexican northern border state of Coahuila.

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It could be the greatest victory Mexico has seen in six years of bloody battle with drug organizations: A top Zetas drug cartel leader is believed to have been killed in a northern Mexico gunfight on Sunday.

The Zetas are the most reviled drug trafficking organization in Mexico, responsible for mass graves, brutal executions, mutilations, extortion, kidnapping, and jailbreaks across the country. And the administration of Mexican President Felipe Calderón has been putting pressure on the group in recent months.

“It is a huge deal for the government,” says Ana Maria Salazar, a former Pentagon official and security analyst in Mexico City. “When you have organizations that are this dangerous, the government has to prioritize and go against those organizations that most exercise violence against society in general. It is a good strategy in that sense.”

‘The Executioner’ killed?

The founding leader, Heriberto Lazcano, who is known both as “El Lazca” and also “El Verdugo,” or "the Executioner," is believed to have been killed in Coahuila, in northern Mexico, in a Sunday fight that broke out between gunmen and the Mexican Navy.


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