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With Heriberto Lazcano now dead, are Mexico's Zetas in decline?

The Mexican navy says that it has killed Heriberto Lazcano, the leader of Mexico's feared Zetas drug cartel, but that his body was then stolen by gunmen.  

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.

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

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Mexico says it has killed Heriberto Lazcano, the leader of the brutal Zetas drug gang and the most powerful kingpin to fall in a six-year battle against cartels, but in a surreal twist his body was snatched from a funeral home by armed men.

Mexico's navy said on Tuesday fingerprint tests had confirmed Lazcano was killed in a firefight in a small village in the northern state of Coahuila on Sunday afternoon.

But it appeared the military may have been unaware it had killed Lazcano until his corpse was stolen from the funeral home in the northern town of Sabinas before dawn on Monday.

Lazcano, alias "The Executioner," had a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head and was the highest profile drug lord to be killed or captured in a military offensive launched when President Felipe Calderon took office in late 2006. 

Just hours after he was killed, in a scene straight out of a movie, an armed group snatched Lazcano's body and that of another Zetas member from the funeral parlor.

"A masked, armed group overpowered the personnel, took the bodies and forced the owner of the funeral home to drive the get-away vehicle," Homero Ramos, Coahuila's state prosecutor,told a news conference on Tuesday.

It was not immediately clear how the bodies were so easily snatched, and local security officials declined to say whether the funeral home was being guarded. A spokeswoman for the home declined comment on how Lazcano's corpse was taken.

If Lazcano's men took the body, it would not be the first time something of the kind has happened in Mexico's drug war. In 2010, police killed Nazario Moreno, leader of La Familia cartel, in a firefight in western Mexico, but gunmen carried off his body into the hills before it could be recovered.


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