Mexico navy nabs alleged cartel hit man

September 30, 2011 - 11:01 PM

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican authorities detained the Zeta drug cartel's alleged top hit man in the city of Veracruz for the disappearance of three marines, the navy announced Friday.

Angel Mora, nicknamed "Commander Devil," was detained Thursday in a working-class neighborhood in the Gulf coast port along with another gunman, the navy said in a statement.

He is the top hit man for the Zetas in the cities of Veracruz and neighboring Boca del Rio, the statement said.

Mora, 25, and Gregorio Maldonado are believed to be part of a Zetas cell that killed three marines who were kidnapped July 29. Troops seized six automatic rifles from the men, the navy said.

Veracruz was hit by the sensational killings of 35 people, whose seminude, bound and tortured bodies were dumped on a busy thoroughfare Sept. 20.

Veracruz state officials had said the dead all had criminal records and appeared to have been linked to the Zetas, but officials had refused to release any details about them.

On Friday, the Veracruz newspaper Notiver published a purported list of 28 of the victims that it said it received from an anonymous source. The official-looking list appeared to indicate the majority of the victims had no criminal records.

Later Friday, the state government issued a statement saying the list was not authentic and the identifications contained in it were untrue.

"The state government states that the aforesaid information is baseless and untrue," according to the statement, which did not provide any information on the victims' true identities.

Following the appearance, both before and after the killings, of videos purportedly made by an armed group calling itself the "Zeta Killers," experts had raised concerns that the killings might have been the work of a paramilitary organization. Federal officials have repeatedly denied that theory, and a military official speaking anonymously has said authorities believe the killings were done by a gang allied with the Sinaloa cartel.

In the border state of Nuevo Leon, authorities on Friday announced the arrest of one of the suspected masterminds of a casino arson that killed 52 people last month.

Nuevo Leon state security spokesman Jorge Domene said federal agents detained Roberto Lopez Thursday in Zapopan, a suburb of the western city of Guadalajara.

Lopez, 32, is alleged to be one of four members of the Zetas drug cartel who planned the Aug. 25 arson of the Casino Royale in the northern city of Monterrey.

Federal agents flew Lopez, a former police officer in the northern city of Saltillo, to Mexico City for further questioning, Domene told Milenio Television.

Lopez is the 11th suspect to be arrested in the case. Seven others remain at large.

Gunmen entered the Casino Royale in Monterrey on Aug. 25, spread gasoline and set the building on fire, trapping and asphyxiating dozens in what is believed to be a case of extortion.