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Los Zetas leader Heriberto Lazcano, or 'El Lazca'

Los Zetas leader Heriberto Lazcano, or ‘El Lazca’

A now-deceased drug lord of one of the world’s most vicious criminal gangs ate his victims’ flesh inside tamales, according to a Mexican reporter who claimed to have witnessed the spectacle.

Los Zetas leader Heriberto Lazcano, or “El Lazca,” would have a person killed and their body cleaned and shaved before their flesh was stuffed into tamales for Lazcano’s consumption, a journalist told the Mexican publication El Blog del Narco.

According to the San Antonio Express-News, the journalist claimed the drug lord would also eat skin from his victims’ buttocks.

Lazcano was shot dead by Mexican marines in 2012 just 80 miles west of the Texas border in the town of Progreso, Coahuila. The U.S. government had put a price of $5 million on his head. Mexico offered $2.3 million for information leading to his arrest. Lazcano was suspected of directing the brutal murders of hundreds of people.

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Los Zetas, which carried out more than 300 murders in northern Mexico between 2009 and 2015, has a presence in the U.S., mostly in Texas, according to a July 2015 “intelligence report” from the Drug Enforcement Agency. The gang was formed in the 1990s by 31 elite commandos from the Mexican army who deserted to work as hired guns for drug traffickers.

2015 DEA map shows Los Zetas' areas of influence in the U.S., including in Texas, Minnesota, Ohio, New York, Maryland, Louisiana and Los Angeles, California (Map: DEA)

2015 DEA map shows Los Zetas’ areas of influence in the U.S. (green), mostly in Texas, but also in Minnesota, Ohio, New York, Maryland, Louisiana and Los Angeles, California (Map: DEA)

The U.S. government has said the gang is “the most technologically advanced, sophisticated and dangerous cartel operating in Mexico.”

A DEA agent explained in 2009 that “the American border makes no difference to Los Zetas. It doesn’t matter if violence is perpetrated on the Mexican or U.S. side of the border,” CNN reported. Los Zetas is known for its random kidnappings of civilians and for beheading rivals. Its members have mounted victims’ heads on poles and hung dismembered bodies from bridges throughout Mexico.

“The Zetas are determined to gain the reputation of being the most sadistic, cruel and beastly organization that ever existed,” George W. Grayson, a professor of government at the College of William & Mary and a specialist on Mexican drug gangs, told the Washington Times in 2013.

“Many of Mexico’s existing drug cartels will kill their enemies, but not go out of their way to do it. The Zetas look forward to inflicting fear on their targets. They won’t just cut off your ear; they’ll cut off your head and think nothing of it.”

The gang has recruited U.S. prison and street gangs for its drug-trafficking operations, the Times reported.

“The FBI judges with high confidence that Los Zetas will continue to increase its recruitment efforts and establish pacts with non-military trained, nontraditional associates to maintain their drug-trafficking and support operations, which may increase violence along the Southwest border posing a threat to U.S. national security,” a 2013 FBI bulletin stated.

In June, A San Antonio federal court ordered Marciano “Chano” Millan Vasquez, a former regional boss for the cartel, to serve seven life sentences in prison. Vasquez directly participated in at least 18 murders and played a role in the Zetas’ drug-trafficking operation.

A witness at Vasquez’ Texas trial said the drug boss used an ax to chop up a 6-year-old girl while her tied-up parents watched. He then ordered the parents and at least a dozen others to be killed, UPI reported. The bodies were dissolved in acid or diesel fuel and burned in barrels.

In September 2016, it was discovered that the cartel hired two American teenagers in Texas as vicious assassins. The teens, Gabriel Cardona and Rosalio “Bart” Reta, were reportedly paid a $500 retainer every week, lived in a big house in Laredo, drove high-end cars and were given a $10,000 commission for each murder. The teens were arrested. Cardona was sentenced to 80 years in prison, and Reta received a 70-year sentence.

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