Taking leadership of the Zetas was Heriberto Lazcano, or Z-3, known by his chilling nickname the Executioner. Hailing from the rural state of Hidalgo, the muscular, thick-necked Lazcano shared a peasant background with his friend and mentor [Arturo] Guzmán, Z-1. Lazcano also joined the army as a teenager and gained promotion to the special forces. When Guzmán defected, the loyal Lazcano was quick to follow. However, Lazcano, who took control of the Zetas at age twenty-eight, proved he was more bloodthirsty than his teacher.
Guards at a penitentiary in Matamoros refused to smuggle in luxuries to some Zetas prisoners. So Lazcano applied pressure. One night, as six prison workers finished a late shift, waiting Zetas abducted them one by one. Hours later, a horrified guard at the prison gates found the bodies of the six employees in a Ford Explorer. They had been blindfolded, hand-cuffed, and shot in the head. The Zetas were showing a new approach for dealing with authorities. Police had once bullied criminals into paying up. Now the worm had turned.
News of Lazcano's possible death came the same day as the Mexican Navy, in a separate incident, announced the capture of Salvador Alfonso Martinez Escobedo, a regional Zetas leader known as "The Squirrel," in the city of Nuevo Laredo along the US-Mexican border, reports CNN. Mr. Martinez is best known in the US for the alleged killing of American David Hartley in 2010 on Falcon Lake, located south of Nuevo Laredo along the border, but he is notorious in Mexico for his alleged role in hundreds of other murders, including the 2010 mass execution of 72 migrants in Tamaulipas.