MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The Mexican government said on Monday it had captured the leader of the Zetas drug cartel, delivering a boost to President Enrique Pena Nieto in his fight against violent crime.
Miguel Angel Trevino, 40, known as Z-40, was captured early on Monday by Mexican Marines near the northern city of Nuevo Laredo on the U.S. border, a government spokesman told reporters.
Pena Nieto came to office in December 2012 promising to boost security and restore stability to a country racked by bloodshed under his predecessor Felipe Calderon.
Calderon staked his reputation on bringing the powerful drug gangs to heel, but bloodletting increased during his administration and more than 70,000 people have been killed in cartel-related violence since the start of 2007.
Many of the worst atrocities in the drug war have been blamed on the Zetas, including the massacre of dozens of migrants in northern Mexico in 2010 and the dumping of 49 decapitated bodies near the city of Monterrey last year.
Security experts said Trevino, who was born in Nuevo Laredo, took over the Zetas after Marines shot dead the cartel's former commander in October 2012. Although he lacked a military background, Trevino had a reputation for extreme violence.
Along with two of his brothers, he was charged with laundering drug proceeds through horse racing last year.
U.S. Federal authorities accused Trevino and 13 others of pouring millions of dollars in proceeds from drug trafficking into the purchase, training and racing of American race horses across four U.S. states.
The U.S. State Department has offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to Trevino's capture.
(Reporting by Dave Graham and Alexandra Alper; Editing by Paul Simao)
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