Image Disseminated as Evidence of Z40′s Capture (Updated)

Alleged image of Z40 following his capture on July 14, 2013

Newer image of Z40

Previous image of Z40
Earlier image of Z40

Earlier image of Z40


Media are reporting that Miguel Treviño Morales (alias Z40), leader of Los Zetas, has been captured alive approximately 27 km from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. At this time, a static image is being circulated in support of that claim. The first question many will ask is: Is this person actually Z40? A quick comparison between the captured individual (top image) and earlier images of Z40 (bottom images) would seem to suggest they are not similar. In this analyst’s opinion, a more careful examination (including comparing features of the eyes, distance from the nose, hairline, shape of the face, chin, ears, lips, nose, etc.) suggests that the match is plausible. Superficial differences between these images may largely be attributable to differences in age, weight, health, fatigue, and facial expression. The newer image may also reveal signs of recent physical injury that were not present in the earlier images.

For those who believe Z40 has been captured, the disseminated mug shot represents a powerful reminder that nobody is untouchable in Mexico’s drug war. While the public may find solace in such a message, other kingpins (including some who will gloat over Z40’s downfall) will carefully review the likelihood of a similar capture occurring through assistance of disenfranchised or greedy operatives within their own ranks.

If the claims of arrest are legitimate, Nuevo Laredo is the center of a particularly lethal power vacuum. It is unclear who will lead the Zetas. It remains to be seen if Omar Treviño, brother of Miguel, will be accepted as the successor within Los Zetas. My view is that a dynastic succession is contrary to the Zetas organizational culture, which has traditionally been more merit-based than its rivals, particularly the Sinaloa Cartel or Gulf Cartel.

If the Zetas leadership succession does not occur quickly and seamlessly, it will be difficult for that organization to protect the valuable border-crossing plaza of Nuevo Laredo from the Sinaloa Cartel (from the West and South) and the Gulf Cartel (from the East). It also remains to be seen what will become of the Sinaloa-Gulf alliance should Los Zetas, their mutual enemies, become adversely affected by internal struggles for power.



The images below are additional evidence of Z40′s arrest.

z40 mugsz40 morales captured


Click the link below to watch a brief video clip of him following the arrest.

Capturan a Miguel Ángel Treviño, ‘El Z-40′, líder de Los Zetas


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