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Zetas drug lord Miguel Angel Trevino Morales captured in northern Mexico

Mexico’s Navy has captured the leader of the brutal Zetas drug cartel Miguel Angel Trevino Morales in the north of the country. Known as “Z-40,” Trevino Morales is one of Mexico's most powerful drug lords.

Zetas cartel leader Miguel Angel Trevino Morales was captured in the town of Nuevo Laredo, which borders Texas, a government spokesman confirmed late Monday.

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Mexico captures key drug lord

Trevino Morales, whose alias is "Z-40", is routinely described as one of the two most powerful cartel lords in Mexico. He leads the Zetas cartel, which was originally formed by a group of army deserters in the late 1990s and acted as the armed enforcers of the Gulf Cartel. But in 2010 the two groups violently split sparking brutal turf wars in northern Mexico.

The Zetas are considered one of the most powerful and feared organized crime groups in Mexico. They are responsible for some of the worst atrocities of Mexico's drug war including leaving hundreds of beheaded bodies on roadsides.

The Zetas are also in an ongoing battle for lucrative drug routes to the United States against the Sinaloa cartel, which is led by the most wanted man in Mexico, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

Trevino Morales' arrest comes eight months after Mexican troops killed his predecessor, Heriberto Lazcano, in a gunfight. However, Lazcano's body was lost shortly thereafter when gunmen burst into a funeral home and stole his body, which has never been recovered.

Trevino Morales is the highest-profile drug kingpin detained since President Enrique Pena Nieto took office in December. Nieto has vowed to lower homicide levels, extortion and kidnapping but has struggled to reduce crime figures.

During the six-year term of his predecessor, Felipe Calderon, there were more than 70,000 drug-related murders in Mexico. Calderon's administration captured or killed two dozen of the 37 most wanted drug lords.

The US State Department had offered a reward of up to five million dollars (3.8 million euros) for information leading to the capture of Trevino Morales.

hc/jr (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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