A total of 13 suspected members of the Los Zetas drug cartel were arrested in the western Mexican state of Jalisco, officials said. The suspects, two of whom are women, were detained Monday morning in Tlajomulco, a city located about 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) from Guadalajara, the capital of Jalisco, after several business owners complained about an extortion racket, the Public Safety Secretariat said. The group was recruited by a “Zetas boss,” known only as “Don Jose,” who took them to the city a few months ago to “execute some criminal activities,” Alfredo Vazquez, identified as the cell’s leader, told investigators. The cartel provided between 100,000 pesos and 150,000 pesos ($7,000 and $11,000) every two weeks to cover the payroll, Vazquez said. Seven of the suspects are from the central state of Guanajuato, four are from the northern state of Durango and two are from Jalisco, the secretariat said, adding that some of them have prior criminal records. State police seized an AR-15 assault rifle, five handguns and two SUVs with Durango tags in the raid, the secretariat said. Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, known as “El Lazca,” deserted from the Mexican army in 1999 and formed Los Zetas with three other soldiers, all members of an elite special operations unit, becoming the armed wing of the Gulf drug cartel. After several years on the payroll of the Gulf cartel, Los Zetas, considered Mexico’s most violent criminal organization, went into the drug business on their own account and now control several lucrative territories. Los Zetas has been blamed for several massacres in recent years. The cartel was accused of being behind the Aug. 23, 2010, massacre of 72 migrants, the majority of them from Latin America, at a ranch outside San Fernando, a city in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas. Los Zetas has also been blamed for the massacre of 27 peasants in May at a ranch in Guatemala’s Peten province, which borders Mexico and Belize. Zetas gunmen set fire to the Casino Royale in Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo Leon, on Aug. 25, killing 52 gamblers and employees trapped inside, most of whom died of smoke inhalation.
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