Mexico: ex-soldier busted in Zeta hit on army general

Octavio Almanza Moreles AKA “El Gori 4” and six other presumed members of the Gulf Cartel‘s notorious paramilitary arms, the Zetas, were arrested in the Mexican resort city of Cancún on charges related to the killing of retired Gen. Mauro Enrique Tello Quiñones and 10 other military men, the federal Prosecutor General’s Office announced Feb. 13.

Almanza is accused of ordering the attack that resulted in the deaths of Tello Quiñones, army Lt. Getulio César Roman Zuñiga and a civilian, Juan Domínguez Sánchez, whose bodies—bearing gunshot wounds and signs of torture—were found last week on a road near the Caribbean resort. Tello Quiñones had recently been hired by the Cancún city government to oversee an anti-corruption drive.

Almanza is also blamed for masterminding the murder of nine soldiers in the northern state of Nuevo Leon last October. Mexican federal authorities say he was an army soldier from 1997 until 2004, when he and brothers Raymundo and Eduardo left the military to join Los Zetas. According to the Defense Secretariat, Almanza acted under the orders one of the Gulf cartel’s kingpins, Sigifredo Najera Talamantes AKA “El Canicón.”

Sources in the Defense Secretariat and Prosecutor General’s SIEDO organized crime unit said the arrest of Almanza and six of his underlings was effected thanks to an anonymous tip. In the operation, the Mexican army reportedly seized 23 assault rifles, 20 handguns, 23 grenades, two grenade launchers, a rocket launcher, cartridges and ammunition clips, $42,000 worth of cash, six vehicles and radio equipment.

The Prosecutor General’s office said Feb. 9 that Cancún police chief Francisco Velasco Delgado had been detained, apparently in connection with the murder of Tello Quiñones. Soldiers briefly occupied the police headquarters in Cancún before flying Velasco and five other officers to the capital for questioning by SIEDO. Cancún’s mayor, Gregorio Sánchez, confirmed the six officers were being questioned in relation to the Tello Quiñones case. Prosecutors are said to be investigating whether Velasco protected the Zetas cell. Mexican press reports indicate Velasco was a cartel agent who went by the code name El Vikingo. (Latin American Herald Tribune, Feb. 13; El Universal, NYT, Feb. 12; NYT, Feb. 10

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