Mexico Arrests Alleged Drug Kingpin 'El Taliban'

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Mexican officials say they have captured one of Mexico's most wanted drug trafficker, a leader of the brutal Zetas drug cartel who goes by the nicknames Z-50 and "El Taliban," after the Islamist militia in Afghanistan.

Ivan Velazquez Caballero, who had a $2.3 million reward on his head, was arrested with two other men by Mexican marines on Wednesday. According to Mexican media, officials say they also seized two cars, 12 kilos of marijuana, $20,000 in cash and assorted guns and grenades at the scene.

Velazquez Caballero had allegedly been engaged in a bloody feud with top Zetas leader Miguel Angel Trevino, aka Z-40, for control of a portion of Northern Mexico. The Zetas cartel, which was started by former members of the Mexican military, gives its members numbers that correspond to their rank.

"Some sources indicate," said Jose Luis Vergara, a Mexican Navy spokesman, "that Z-50 challenged the second maximum Zeta leader, Miguel Trevino Morales, alias Z-40, beginning a struggle for control of San Luis Potosi."

Mexican media have reported that Velazquez Caballero left the Zetas this week and had allegedly allied with the Knights Templar, a cartel based in Michoacan that has a quasi-religious identity and mystic initiation rituals, though Vergara said these reports had not been confirmed. Several "narco banners" signed by the Knights Templar and the Gulf Cartel and hung in public places have also alleged that "El Taliban" had joined their ranks.

According to Mexican media, Velazquez Caballero believed Morales had turned in other Zetas leaders to authorities.

Vergara said that marines acting on intelligence spotted a group of men leaving a residence in San Luis Potosi. The Marines followed the men back into the house and arrested Velazquez Caballero and two other men inside.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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