At 3:45 on Monday morning, Mexican marines stopped a car heading west from Nuevo Laredo. Inside was $2 million, nine weapons, 500 rounds of ammunition—and this man, "40," the leader of the Zetas drug cartel.
Born Miguel Angel Treviño Morales, "40" took over for the Zetas last year, when Heriberto Lazcano, the group's previous leader, was killed by marines in a shootout in Northern Mexico. Morales was seized on a dirt road by marines (some in a helicopter) as he, his bodyguard, and his treasurer drove back to a hiding place in the state of Nuevo Leon after visiting his newborn child in Nuevo Laredo. No shots were fired.
Morales, 40, was born in Mexico and raised in North Texas, and worked his way up through the cartels after starting as a gofer and smuggler. He joined the Zetas when the gang was just a security and hit firm, and helped make it an independent cartel; as national commander of the Zetas in Mexico, he'd been one of Lazcano's right-hand men.
Though "40" was known for the new lows of violence and cruelty to which he took the Zetas, it seems unlikely that his capture will abate gang violence—if anything, it may make it worse, as other cartels and rivals attempt to fill the power vacuum. His younger brother Omar—"42"—will probably emerge as the new leader of the cartel.